A liver is a vital organ that plays an important role in nurturing and protecting the human body every day with clockwork precision. The liver helps filter the toxins and bacteria out of the body, ward off infection and viruses, regulating sex hormones, and supply minerals, vitamins to the body. The liver is an important part of the body and is vital for survival. Liver disease is a common and serious problem in the country.
Introduction to Liver Transplant:
A liver transplant operation can give a second chance at life. A liver transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a healthy liver with a failed liver from a deceased donor or a living donor. A whole liver may be transplanted or just a part of the liver. In most cases, a liver donor comes from a brain dead person. The liver is the only largest internal organ in the human body that can replace lost or injured tissue meaning it can regenerate itself within a few months after the surgery. The living donor’s liver will soon get back to its normal original size after the surgery. Liver transplant surgery time is in between 8-12 hours. Patients need to be hospitalized for 7-10 days after the surgery in the hospital. The recovery takes about 3-6 months for patients to get back to normal activity.
Both children and adults can undergo a liver transplant. The most common symptom of liver disease in children is biliary atresia.
Need for liver transplant:
The need for a liver transplant arises when no other treatment option or medication works on the patient with liver disease. Some of the common causes of liver transplant are:
Acute liver failure:
This is the loss of liver function which occurs rapidly within days or weeks. It sustains 80-90% damage to liver cells and may lead to coma.
This is a highly contagious liver disease that causes the liver to fail completely.
Alcoholic liver disease:
Due to high consumption of alcohol, scars also cale cirrhosis to occur causing the liver to stop functioning.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
This is the build-up of fats in the liver that causes inflammation and damages the cells in the liver.
Primary liver cancer:
Tumor cells that have grown deep into the tissue halting any function of the liver are liver cancer.
The average liver transplant cost in India is between 20-25 lakhs which is roughly one-tenth of the cost compared to other western countries in the world. The cost is inclusive of the pre-evaluation surgery, surgery of course, and the post-surgery recovery period. Along with that, there are other factors that influence the cost of the liver transplant. Patients require 10,000 INR a month for lifetime immunosuppression.
Types of liver transplant:
There are three main types of liver transplant:
Deceased organ donation transplant:
This involves transplanting a liver from a dead person.
Living donor liver transplant:
This involves removing a liver from a living person as the liver can regenerate itself, both the transplanted section and the remaining section of the donor’s liver are able to regrow in the original size.
Split donation transplant:
A liver is removed from the person who died recently and the liver is split into two pieces, each liver is then transplanted in two different people where they will grow in the normal size.
The liver transplant success rate is an 89% chance of living after one year. The five-year survival rate is 75%.
Risks of liver transplant surgery:
There are certain complications associated with liver transplant surgery such as:
- Blood clotting issues
- Respiratory problems
- Malfunction of the new liver
- Rejection of the new liver
Fortunately, these complications are treatable through some drugs.
The average cost of liver transplant in India:
It is important to consider the costs before opting for a liver transplant. When the liver fails, sometimes a liver transplant is the only best possible option available.
The average cost of liver transplant in India ranges between 20-25 lakhs INR. The cost is inclusive of pre-surgery evaluation, surgery, and post-surgery recovery period in the hospital. There are certain factors that determine the cost of a liver transplant. The list includes:
- Health complication
- Recovery and rehabilitation
- Post-transplant medication
- Organ Recovery and transport charges
- Hospital infrastructure and technology
- Length of the stay in the hospital and category of the room opted
- The expertise of skilled surgeons, their team members, and the use of advanced technology
Patients who stay in the vicinity of the hospital or have traveled from another city or country should also bear in mind the cost of a stay in the new city or country. Most patients’ families opt to find a room in the vicinity of the hospital on short term lease. Over the course of a few months, these expenditures will add up too. It is suggested that a patient must check his/her health insurance plan and coverage of liver transplant.
Liver transplant surgery time depends on how complex your case is. On average, the surgery time is between 6-12 hours.
Pre-liver transplant evaluation:
All patients looking forward to liver transplants have to undergo a pre-evaluation process. This includes specific tests, procedures, and consultations depending on the health condition. The following is the evaluation process:
- A general health exam includes routine screening tests to evaluate the overall health of the patient.
- Laboratory tests include blood tests and urine tests to evaluate the health of the organs including the liver itself.
- Ultrasound of the liver also called imaging test
- The next test includes a heart test to assess the cardiovascular system of the patient
- Nutrition counseling with dietitians includes nutritional intake after and before the transplant.
- The last is a psychological evaluation to assess and treat any issues such as depression and anxiety.
Liver transplant success rate:
There is a great life expectancy after a liver transplant. As medicine progresses and so does the success rate of the liver transplant. The liver transplant success rate is 88% with an increased life span of 1 year and a 78% success rate with an increased life span of 3 years.
There are certain guidelines to be followed for receiving a liver transplant depending on the country of residence and state of life of the donor.