Liver Transplant – Why Is It Done?

Liver transplant or hepatic transplantation is a surgical operation that replaces the diseased liver with a healthy liver from a liver donor. Liver transplantation is needed in case of liver failure occuring because of metabolic disorders, alcohol abuse or chronic liver diseases such as liver cancer, cirrhosis, biliary atresia, hepatitis B, hepatitis C. Liver transplant cost varies greatly depending on the geographical location, fees of the surgeon and hospital and the coverage policy of your health insurance.

Liver Transplant Surgery – How Is It Performed?

There are two common types of liver transplantation:

  • Orthotopic Transplant: It is the most common type of liver transplant procedure in which a liver recipient’s non-functioning liver is replaced with a whole healthy liver taken from a deceased donor. The surgeon will make an incision in the patient’s abdomen and remove the liver. Then he/she will place the healthy liver and close the incision.
  • Living Donor Transplant: In living donor transplantation, the donor is usually chosen from a close family member. The surgeon replaces the patient’s liver with the half of the donor’s liver (either left or right side). Because the right side of the liver is bigger, it is recommended for adult patients whereas the left side is recommended for children.

liver transplant

Liver Transplant Waiting List

As in kidney transplant and any other organ transplant surgery, when you need a liver transplant, your name is written to the national waiting list. Your place in the liver transplant queue is defined depending on your MELD (The Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) score. This individual score determines how urgently you need a liver transplant. This score is calculated by the results of some laboratuary tests such as Bilirubin, INR (Prothrombin Time Test) and Creatinine. Waiting for a liver transplant takes 150 days for adult patients and 75 days for children on average. However, some circumtances may shorten your liver waiting time. If one of your close family members have the same blood type as you, he/she may be a living liver donor for you. This advantage neither increases nor decreases the cost of liver transplant. The cost still includes the whole treatment expenses. So what does average liver transplant cost include?

Liver Transplant Risks and Complications

The biggest risk of liver transplantation is transplant failure. This condition occurs when your immune system recognizes the new liver as being foreign and harmful to your body and does not accept it. The condition is also called as graft rejection of liver or hepatic graft rejection. Other long-term liver transplant complications and risks may include:

  • bile duct leaks
  • shrinking of bile ducts
  • bleeding
  • blood clots
  • infection
  • mental confusion or seizures

Liver Transplant Side Effects

Side effects of liver transplant generally emerges because of medications for anti-rejection of the donated liver and may include:

  • diabetes
  • headache
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • high cholesterol
  • diarrhea
  • bone thinning

Liver Transplant Recovery

Recovering from a liver transplant needs generally a two-week hospital stay. In your liver transplant recovery time, your doctor will make a thorough monitoring and evaluation of your healing process. You will take a number of medications to prevent transplant failure after your surgery. You may be able to do your normal activities and go back to work a few months after your liver transplantation surgery. Fully recovering from liver transplantation may take six months or more.


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