Liver Transplant in India
A liver transplant can save your life after liver failure. When your liver no longer functions properly for one of many reasons such as cancer, hepatitis or alcohol abuse, you may need a liver transplant.
A team of specialists from different fields will need to discuss your condition, your medical history, conduct some tests and decide whether you are a candidate for liver transplant. It will be the last resort treatment depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.
Pre-evaluation for a Liver Transplant
During the pre-evaluation for the liver transplant, you have to bring your X-rays, doctor records, liver biopsy slides and any record of medication for tests including CT-scan, ECG, Doppler ultrasound, pulmonary function test, blood tests.
If the tests find you an active candidate, you’ll be put on the waiting list. The list organizes people based on severity, blood type, and body size. You’ll be given a priority score and the higher the score the higher up you are on the list. Depending on any other conditions you may have, your surgeon will also consider the chance of success of a transplant.
A liver may become available either through a living donor (a blood relative or an unrelated person) or through a deceased head injury victim whose brain has stopped but whose heart is still beating.
Preparing for a Liver Transplant
When a liver becomes available for you and you’re called for the transplant, you should make sure not to eat or drink anything after the call. You’ll be given any additional instructions. Before the operation, you will undergo an ECG, blood tests, a chest X-ray. You will meet with your surgeon. If the donor's liver is found suitable, you’ll proceed with the transplant.
What to Expect from the Liver Transplant Operation
The operation can last between 6 hours and 12 hours and is done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make a long incision across your abdomen. He will disconnect the blood supply to and from the liver and bile ducts and then remove the liver.
He will replace it with the donor's liver and reattach the bile ducts and blood vessels to the new liver. He will then place staples and stitches to close the incision.
If your liver is from a living donor, the doctor will remove a portion of the donor’s liver. He will then remover your diseased liver and place the donor’s liver in your body, and connect the bile ducts and blood vessels. The liver in your body and that in the donor’s body will quickly regenerate within a few months to its full volume.
Risks and Complications
There are two common risks associated with liver transplant.
Rejection: There is a chance that your immune system will attempt to attack your new liver since it is unable to distinguish between the transplanted liver and other foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Any immune system attacks that could occur are blocked by medication. This rejection tends to occur within the first 90 days after transplant and in about 64 percent of patients.
Signs of rejection may include fever, nausea, pain in the abdomen, yellowing of the skin and general feelings of being unwell.
Infection: There is also a chance of infection because the anti-rejection immunosuppressant drugs suppress your immune system. Such infections are easily and quickly treated, however.
Other possible complications can include
◦ Blood clots
◦ Damage to bile duct
◦ Side effects from immunosuppressants and high blood sugar
Recovery and Post-Operative Care
Your stay in the hospital after a transplant will be two or three weeks. You may be discharged quicker or need to stay for longer depending on any complications. You should let your doctor know about your mental and physical health during this time. He will decide whether you need home care.
After the transplant, you will need to take a combination of certain special immunosuppressants for up to six months to slow or stop your body’s immune system. When your liver begins to function reasonably after six months without rejection, you’ll be prescribed an immunosuppressant drug that you must take for the rest of your life.
You may take as long as a year to feel completely healthy.
You should regularly have your doctor monitor your recovery after the transplant so that any potential problems can be detected. You may need regular blood tests.
Your doctor will tell you about any lifestyle changes you should make. This will include a healthy diet and exercise. The chances of rejection will be greatly reduced by a healthy lifestyle. Quit habits like smoking and alcohol abuse, and avoid acetaminophen overdose, and try to keep your cholesterol in check to avoid recurrence of your disease.
A liver transplant is a major surgery. We can help you find the best doctor and clinic for your treatment, and help you cope by arranging your stay, travel and post-operative recovery care.
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