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Navigating The Liver Transplant Process: What To Expect!

Liver Transplant Process

Every year, thousands of individuals worldwide face the daunting challenge of liver disease, a debilitating condition that affects not only their physical health but also their quality of life. For some, a liver transplant becomes the only hope for survival.

But what exactly does the liver transplant process entail? Let’s look deeper into liver transplants and explore the intricate steps involved in this life-saving procedure.

What Is A Liver Transplant?

A liver transplant is a surgical procedure that involves removing a diseased or damaged liver from a patient and replacing it with a healthy liver from a donor. The process begins with a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history and current condition to determine if a transplant is necessary and if they are a suitable candidate.

Your liver, which is the largest internal organ you have, serves several important functions, such as:

  • Processing of food, drugs, and hormones
  • Bile production, which facilitates the body’s absorption of fats, cholesterol, and fat-soluble vitamins
  • Urine With Blood In It
  • Producing proteins that aid in blood clotting
  • Cleansing the blood of poisons and bacteria
  • Controlling immunological responses and preventing infections

The prospect of a liver transplant is typically only considered a treatment for those with severe difficulties brought on by the end-stage chronic liver disease. In rare circumstances where a previously healthy liver suddenly fails, liver transplantation may also be an option for treatment.

There are far more people waiting for liver transplants than livers available from deceased donors. The human liver regenerates and returns to its usual size soon after a surgically removed portion of the organ, making living-donor liver transplants viable.

Causes Of Liver Transplant

Some common causes that may lead to the need for liver transplants are

  • Chronic liver diseases: Long-term liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis B or C, primary biliary cirrhosis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can damage the liver and cause liver failure.
  • Alcoholic liver disease: Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholic liver disease, which can cause cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Inherited liver diseases: Certain inherited liver diseases, such as hemochromatosis. Wilson’s disease, as well as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, can cause liver damage and liver failure.
  • Acute liver failure: This can be caused by several factors, such as drug overdose, viral hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, and other infections that can damage the liver and cause it to fail.
  • Liver cancer: Primary liver cancer or cancer that has spread to the liver can cause liver failure and may require a liver transplant.
  • Biliary atresia: This is a rare disease in infants in which the bile ducts are absent or damaged, leading to liver damage and failure.
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): NASH is a severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that can cause liver damage and may require a liver transplant.
  • Certain medications or toxins: Some medications or toxins can cause liver damage and liver failure, leading to the need for a liver transplant.

Process Of Liver Transplant

Below mentioned are the general steps involved in the surgical process of a liver transplant:

  • Anesthesia:
    Anesthesia: The patient is given general anesthesia to ensure they are unconscious and do not feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Incision: An incision is made in the upper abdomen to expose the liver.
    Preparation of the donor’s liver: The healthy liver from the donor is prepared for transplantation.
  • Removal of the diseased liver:
    The surgeon disconnects the diseased liver from the surrounding blood vessels and bile ducts and removes it.
  • Placement of the donor’s liver: The healthy donor’s liver is then positioned in the patient’s body and joined with the blood vessels and bile ducts.
  • Testing the new liver: The surgeon tests the new liver to ensure that it is functioning properly.
  • Closing the incision: The incision is closed with sutures or staples. 
  • Recovery: The patient is moved to the recovery area, where they are closely monitored for any complications. 

Preparing For Liver Transplant

After a liver transplant, the hospital recovery period usually lasts two weeks. Depending on your health prior to the transplant, this can vary, so talk to your doctor about it.

You will initially recover from the operation in the intensive transplant care unit (ICU). The liver transplant team will keep a careful eye on you and your new liver in this location.
To assist in lowering the likelihood of liver rejection, you will begin taking anti-rejection drugs immediately.

Your immune system starts to operate when your body notices anything new to combat what it perceives as a threat. Anti-rejection medications block your body’s normal immune reaction, enabling your body to accept the replacement liver.

You will transfer to a patient room on the transplant floor after you are stable.

Your care team for the liver transplant will:

  • Help you move around and get up. Your chance of developing a blood clot after surgery will increase if you remain too still.
  • Manage your meals to aid in your transition back to solid foods.
  • A treatment schedule will be developed for you to adhere to once you return home.

Your liver transplant care team will also go through the following before you leave the hospital:

  • Rules for eating and nutrition.
  • Your regimen of medications.
  • Suggestions for increasing your activity level as well as what you may and cannot accomplish.
  • Schedule a follow-up visit.

In case you’re looking for the best multispeciality hospital in Vadodara, India, Parul Sevashram Hospital is the answer! The hospital is known for its highly skilled and experienced doctors including hepatologists, who provide personalized care and advanced treatment options to patients with liver disease.

Also, with state-of-the-art facilities and advanced technology, Parul Sevashram ensures an accurate diagnosis and effective management of liver-related disorders, making it a top choice for hepatology care in India!

Written by Parul Sevashram Hospital  |  10  April  2023