When the liver is damaged enough to be not able to function properly, transplant is the only chance the patient has towards life. However, what is liver transplant, why does one need it and what are its risks? These are the questions we are going to ponder upon through the extent of this article.
Definition of Liver Transplant:
Liver transplant refers to an operation which is performed when the titular organ has been damaged to the point that proper function is impossible. During this operation, the damaged liver is removed completely and is then replaced with a healthy one. There are two types of donors for comes to this form of transplantation surgery.
Deceased Donor: As the name suggests, the donor is clinically brain dead in this case. Due to its ethical implications, it is necessary to know what the word “dead” implies here. This word implies that the donor’s brain has stopped functioning and all the major involuntary organs are only working courtesy of ventilators and other external machinery. Now, this death is different from actual death (however, has the same implication). That being said, because the machines are conducting all the involuntary functions, the organs are healthy enough to be donated. This type of donor is mostly prevalent in the western countries and is also the most sought after.
Risk factor of a dead donor: It is always necessary to know why the donor is brain dead. It is necessary to know this because if the donor has had some disease, it might affect the regenerative properties of the liver in the receiver.
Living Donor: When there is an immense lack of supplies of liver, living and willing donors can also participate in the liver transplantation process. This method is possible because of the regenerative properties of the liver. To that end, it is possible to remove about 70% of healthy liver from the donor and transplant it to the patient. In most individuals, the regeneration process afterwards takes about 4 to 6 weeks which in terms of actual statistics is about among 85% of the donors. Donation of this form is mostly prevalent in India.
Risk factor of a living Donor: There are multiple risk factors when it comes to the living donors. These factors involve complications to the living donor during the surgery, the habits that the donor might have had prior to the surgery etc.
Need of Liver Transplant
The need of liver transplant arises when about 80 or 90% has been damage. With this high degree of deterioration, the organ doesn’t work properly and transplant remains the only viable option to save the patient’s life. The following factors contribute to the deterioration of the liver to such an extent:
Liver cancer: Liver cancer can be curbed in its earlier to mid stages with transplantation. The types of cancer that can indeed be treated with this method are as follows:
a. HCC or Primary Liver cancer
b. Cancer of the Bile Duct
c. Cancer of neuro-endocrine cells.
Acute Liver Failure: To be precise, acute liver failure is abrupt, disastrous and accelerated. When something this disastrous hits the liver, the entire organ shuts down after three to four weeks. The contributing factors of this condition are:
a. Rat Poison: Rodenticide or Rat poison, when taken with a suicidal or an accidental intent, can cause an acute liver failure if not caught up with in time.
b. Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune disease is a circumstance where the immune system thinks that healthy organs are the enemy. Wilson’s disease in one such issue.
c. Paracetamol: Overdosing on a fever medication such as paracetamol is guaranteed to have some side effects. The most drastic side effect is liver failure.
d. Herbal supplements: Over indulgence of herbal supplements to look a bit more lean can have dire affects on the liver.
Chronic diseases: There are some chronic diseases that act as a slow poison of the liver health. These diseases are as follows:
a. Alcoholic disease
b. Fatty liver disease
c. HCV infection
d. HBV Infection
e. Autoimmune diseases etc.
Risks involved with liver transplant
The surgical process of liver transplant comes with its own sets of complications and risk. The risk in this type of operation involves both the donor and the receiver; for the donors, the risks involved are:
Complication during the surgery.
It is necessary to remember that only 70% of liver is supposed to be taken out, any more than that, and the donor might lose their organ as well.
Without a proper medical history of the donor, it is possible that the doctors might not know that the donor might be allergic to a certain type of anaesthesia for the operation.
For the receivers, the risks involved are as follows:
There can be complications during the surgery.
They might be allergic to the drugs meant to prevent new organ rejection.
The donated liver might fail.
The patient’s body might reject the received organ.
There is a slight possibility of seizures during the surgery.
There might be some risks involved with the surgical process. However, liver transplant has always been a detriment to diseases. To that end, the process has been very successful. Capable of dealing with multiple types of ailments, if transplantation remains your only remaining option, the prudent line thought is to grab that option.