What is a liver transplant?
Liver transplant is a surgical procedure to replace an unhealthy or diseased liver with a healthy one. Some patients need a transplant for the entire liver while others might need transplant for a small part of their liver. The type of transplant you need is determined by the condition of your liver.
Healthy liver used for the transplant usually comes from a recently dead donor. At times it can also come from living family members or people whose blood type matches yours. Since alive people can’t donate their entire liver they donate a small part of it. Donating a part of their liver doesn’t affect their quality of health at all because the liver is an organ that grows back to its normal size after losing its tissues.
When is a liver transplant needed?
Liver is one of the most important internal organs of the human body. It is because it performs dozens of vital functions. Some of which are:
- It produces albumin (a protein)
- It filters blood
- It acts as a storing unit for vital nutrients and minerals
- It produces bile which helps with digestion
- It removes bacteria from the bloodstream
- It keeps a check on the level of amino acids
If your liver stops performing its functions due to any reason you will need a liver transplant. Some common reasons that cause problems in liver functionality are:
- Viral hepatitis
- Chronic hepatitis
- Biliary cholangitis
- Drug-induced injuries
- Wilson’s disease
- Liver cancer
- Metabolic diseases
Who is a suitable candidate for liver transplant?
If a Hepatologist in Lahore considers that your liver is no longer in working condition they will recommend you liver transplant. After recommending liver transplant they will connect you with the surgical team that will evaluate your condition and find donors for you. The evaluation is done by performing several diagnostic and imaging tests. After collecting all the required data the surgical team puts you on a waiting list and starts looking for a liver donor for you.
Once they are able to find a donor match for you, you will be scheduled for liver transplant surgery as soon as possible.
How is a liver transplant performed?
To prepare for the surgery your doctor will ask you to stop eating and drinking at least 7 to 8 hours prior to your surgery. And stop taking any medications that might interfere with the process.
After you reach the hospital on the day of your transplant this is how the process of the transplant will look like:
- You will have to change in a hospital gown.
- You will be taken to the operation theater where you will be asked to lie on your back.
- An intravenous line and catheter will be attached to you.
- Your anaesthesiologist will give you the required amount of anesthetic medication.
- After you are completely unconscious the surgeon will begin the transplant by making an incision under your ribs.
- They will carefully separate the diseased liver and take it out.
- The donor liver will then be put in place of your liver. Halted blood flow will be restored again to the liver.
- The incision will then be closed with the help of stitches or staples.
- A bandage or dressing will then be put on your surgical site.
- Then you will be shifted to the recovery room until you gain consciousness.
Liver transplant patients usually need to stay for 3 to 4 days in the hospital after their surgery or until they are stable enough to go back home.
Are there any risk factors attached to a liver transplant?
Just like other transplants, liver transplant can also bring in some complications for the patients. Some of these complications are:
- Blockage in the blood vessels or bile ducts connected to the new liver
- Leakage of the bile ducts
- New liver not performing its functions
If you have had a liver transplant and see any signs of the mentioned complications happening, you must connect with a Hepatologist in Islamabad at your earliest.