According to an analysis of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) records published in JAMA Surgery, getting an organ transplant could add four or more years to your life. When you or a loved one faces liver failure and needs transplantation, you’ll want to know all you can about the complexities of donation and transplantation from your liver specialist doctor. The body’s ability to regrow its liver facilitates an uncommon yet growing form of transplantation. Patients who need a new liver receive one from a deceased donor in most cases. But some people find salvation from another source: living individuals. Here are a few uncommon facts about liver transplant that you probably didn’t know about.
Living Donors Save Time
Livers have the capability to regenerate so live donation is possible. Live donation is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the liver is removed from a healthy, living person and placed into someone whose liver is no longer working properly. Living donation helps a sick patient avoid the waiting time for a deceased donor. That can mean an individual receives life-saving intervention before his/her condition worsens. This is typically relevant for liver transplant surgery in case of end-stage liver cancer, liver failure, or other rare metabolic diseases.
Both Donor and Recipient are Affected by Risk
While studies have shown that the long-term outcomes “are as good or better” for recipients, unique challenges remain in the case of live-liver donation. The implantation process for the recipient is more complicated because it is only a part of the liver. There also are risks to the donor, such as the need for transfusion and bleeding. The mortality rate for the donor is somewhere between 1 out of 200-300. While this may be a relatively rare outcome, the figure is considered unacceptable for a nonessential operation.
Most Donors Know their Recipients
Because of the scope and size of the operation, in association with the speed a decision to donate might require, a living donor usually has close ties to the patient. However, both sides must still go through a series of compatibility tests. A family member could also be your liver donor. You could also receive a liver donation from a non-related person provided the blood type is a good match. According to a liver specialist doctor, if a donor’s body is much smaller than the recipient’s, the portion of their liver might not be adequate for the sick person’s needs.
Recovery Time is Significant
A living donor who donates a kidney might need to be hospitalized for a few days and spend the next four to six weeks in healing. However, people who offer a part of their liver should expect to double that length of time, because it’s a bigger hit. Long-term data shows no signs that the surgery affects a donor’s risk of developing liver disease or life span. Normally, it takes about 6 weeks for the livers of both parties to grow to full size.
Patients Bounce Back
Liver transplant surgery results speak volumes irrespective of whether it is from a deceased or a living donor. Most patients bounce back very well within 8-12 weeks of their surgery and are almost unrecognizable. According to a liver specialist doctor and most surgeons, liver transplant patients almost look like new people post-surgery. There’s color in their face, muscle mass and they look energetic and vigorous.
You have to take Anti-rejection Medication for life
You’ll take medications for the rest of your life after a liver transplant, to help prevent your body from rejecting the donated liver. However, these anti-rejection medications often cause myriad side-effects in the body, including:
- Bone thinning
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
Anti-rejection drugs also increase the risk of your infection because they work to help prevent your body from rejecting the donated liver. Your liver specialist doctor may prescribe you medications to help you fight infections.
Domino Liver Transplants are possible
The Domino Liver Transplant is a less common type of living-donor liver transplant. You will receive a liver from a living donor who has a disease called familial amyloidosis in a domino liver transplant. Since this transplant is rare, only the best liver hospital in your region would probably offer this transplant option. The donor who suffers from familial amyloidosis receives a transplant to treat his or her condition. Consequently, because the liver still functions well the donor can give his or her liver to you in a domino liver transplant. You may eventually develop symptoms of amyloidosis, but they usually take decades to develop. You will be evaluated by your doctor to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a domino liver transplant or if some other treatment option would be more appropriate for your condition.
Live-Liver Donations are rare
Today, live-liver transplants account for only 5 percent of total liver transplants. This is partial because the surgery itself could disqualify or frighten some donors. Besides, there are limited centers and surgeons with robust expertise. This is why it is very important to evaluate all options and choose the best liver hospital in Coimbatore for your transplant surgery.
There are Complications with the Procedure
There is a risk of significant complications in liver transplant surgery. There are risks associated with the drugs necessary to prevent rejection of the donor’s liver after the transplant as well as with the procedure itself. Some risks associated with the procedure are:
- Blood Clots
- Failure/Rejection of the liver donated
- Bile Duct Complications, including shrinking of the bile ducts or bile duct leaks.
The long-term complications associated with liver transplant include the recurrence of liver disease in the transplanted organ.
Choosing the Transplant Center is important
When choosing the best liver hospital, you may want to:
- Learn about the type and number of transplants the hospital performs annually.
- Acquaint yourself with the transplant center’s liver transplant survival rates.
- Understand the expenses that will be incurred overall for the surgery. Costs include organ procurement, tests, surgery, transportation to and from the center for the procedure and follow-up appointments, and follow-up appointments.
- Take note of the additional services provided by the transplant center. These include assistance with travel arrangements, coordinating with support groups, offering referrals to other resources, and helping with local housing for your recovery period.
- Assess the hospital’s commitment to keeping up with the latest liver transplant techniques and technology.