Everything You Need To Know About Liver Transplant Treatment

A liver transplant is surgical procedure used to replace a diseased liver with a healthy one from another person. A whole liver or just part of one may be transplanted. In most of the cases, the healthy living individual donates part of his liver and sometimes, the healthy liver comes from a donor who has just died. A person who donates part of their liver can live a healthy life with partial part of the liver. Here, we will discuss everything about liver transplant, such as what is liver transplant, what are the complications of liver transplant surgery, what is the cost of a liver transplant in India, which are top hospitals for liver transplant in India, and who are the best doctors for liver transplant in India.

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui

Review By Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui
Award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd

Mar 4, 2024

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What is liver transplant?

What is liver transplant?

A liver transplant is surgery performed to remove a diseased and injured liver and then replace it with a healthy liver from another individual known as a donor. If the liver stops working properly, known as liver failure, a liver transplant can help save your life. A person may receive a whole liver from the donor who has recently been declared dead, or they can even receive a part of the liver from a living donor. The divided liver will grow back to complete size in the body as well as the living donor’s body. The doctor can recommend a liver transplant after reviewing your condition and if they believe your health enough to undergo surgery.

Types of liver transplant

Living donor transplant: In a living donor transplant, a voluntary living donor gives a piece of their liver. The surgeon will remove the left or right side of the donor's liver during the surgery. The right lobe is mostly preferred for adult patients for living donor transplants due to its bigger size.

Orthotopic transplant: This is a common type of liver transplant and is different from living donor liver transplant. In orthotopic transplant, the liver is received from a deceased donor. It involves a donor who has earlier donated their organs and is free of any transmissible illnesses.

Split type of liver transplant: Split liver transplantation is a special type of liver transplant which involves separation of the liver of a deceased donor into two or more parts and then transplanted into two or more recipients. It is also called split dead donor liver transplantation.

Causes and Symptoms

Causes

  • Acute hepatic necrosis
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Primary liver cancers
  • Biliary atresia
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Liver failure
  • Liver damage
  • Alcohol

Symptoms

  • Enlarged liver
  • Jaundice
  • Cholestasis
  • High blood pressure
  • Fluid accumulation in the belly
  • Buildup of toxins in blood
  • Severe fatigue
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Frequent bruising

Diagnosis

Liver enzymes test: Liver enzymes include alkaline phosphatase and alanine transaminase . The levels of these enzymes are elevated in case of liver injury.

Total protein test: It measures levels of protein in the blood. The liver makes several protein, and low protein levels might show that the liver isn’t functioning properly.

Bilirubin test: Bilirubin is a waste substance released by the liver in bile.

LDH test: Lactate dehydrogenase is an important enzyme found in several tissues, including the liver.

Prothrombin Time test: This test measures the time taken by a sample of the blood to clot, a process which involves proteins that the liver produces.

Risk & Complications

Infection: Infections are very common after a liver transplant. The common infections are urine or chest infections. These are easy to treat with antibiotics. Infection inside the liver transplant could be harder to treat. Some infections can be transferred from the donor liver.

High blood pressure: This occurs in 40-80 patients in every 100 transplants. Most liver transplant patients have high blood pressure (called hypertension). Taking steroid medicines and being overweight increase the risk. This requires medicine to decrease blood pressure. Most liver transplant patients develop hypertension. The risk of post-operative hypertension is increased by corticosteroids, obesity, and immunosuppressants.

Kidney problems: This issue affects many liver transplant patients. A liver transplant could affect the kidney function. A few patients might need temporary dialysis during the early days after the surgery. Chronic and long-term kidney problems may happen in some of the patients.

High cholesterol: Several patients may have high cholesterol level after surgery. Taking steroid medicines and being overweight can contribute to this. This might require medicine to reduce your cholesterol levels.

Chronic rejection: The risks of rejection is found to be the highest in the six months after a transplant. After this period of time, the body’s immune system may not recognize the liver coming from another person.

Preparation of Treatment

There are some steps to prepare for liver transplant surgery. Your recovery will be faster if you get tests done to check your health condition, avoid some supplements and drugs, and follow the right diet. Do not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for a week before liver surgery. Avoid taking herbs, supplements and vitamins as your surgery nears unless the doctor tells you to take them. A supplement known as kava kava may even cause liver failure. Stay as active as possible and eat healthy foods before your surgery. This would help fight infections and recover faster afterward. You must go for a swim or walk. Avoid lifting heavy weights as it may strain veins in the liver. If you require a new liver, there is a possibility that you' are underweight due to your health problems. Protein-containing foods, such as meat, fish, eggs and soy, can help build up your muscles. Consume a low-sodium diet to lower the chance of having fluid buildup following surgery. This will also help control high blood pressure. Stop alcohol and smoking as they can make liver diseases worse. Quitting tobacco before surgery can help reduce the chance of any complications.

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Treatment Option

Liver failure demands quick and firm action. Unfortunately, there is no other treatment option for liver failure except transplant, but medications can manage symptoms and give sometime to the patient. This major surgery replaces the diseased liver with a healthy one. Liver transplant is big surgery but sometimes, it's the only way to survive in the long run.

Cost of the treatment

The cost of liver transplant in India starts from $24,000. However, the cost may vary from person to person depending on the type of implant, the patient’s medical condition, technique used for surgery, experience of the transplant surgeon, location and the type of the hospital which you choose for the surgery. The success rate for liver transplant surgery in India may range between 85% and 90%, which is considered as high as that delivered by the developed countries in the west. The cost of liver transplant in India is much affordable than that in many other countries.

Recovery

Recovery after liver transplant surgery

Most people can retu to work in 1-2 months and resume their other activities within 4-6 months. The patient will regularly see their healthcare team during this period. The patient’s symptoms are likely to improve soon after the surgery, but most individuals will have to stay in hospital for up to 2 weeks. Recovery after a liver transplant may take a long time depending on certain factors. You will need to have regular follow-ups to monitor your overall progress. The doctor may prescribe immunosuppressant medications to help stop your body rejecting the new liver.

Recovery
Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui

Written by

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui

Award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui is an award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd., a professionally managed medical tourism holding company and the active Director of Alshifa Healthcare Services Pvt. Ltd., a full-service medical tourism aggregation agency servicing JCI and NABH/ NABL accredited Hospitals across the country’s 5 locations.

In addition to Marlin, Alshifa also includes Media Group, which houses Arabic Medical Tourism e-Magazine healthandtour.com. The E-magazine “مجلة الصحة والسياحة” provides a wide scope of medical tourism information to healthcare travellers to find a safe, effective and cost-saving solution for their medical and healthcare needs. In addition to running E-Magazine, Dr. Mohammad Afzal also serves as Delhi-state coordinator in Foundation of Healthcare and Wellness Promotion focused on bringing India’s Healthcare closer to the world and smoothen world’s access to Indian Healthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions About Liver Transplant

You should avoid too much sugar, salt and saturated fats. A diet low in sugar is important for managing diabetes. A diet containing less saturated fat will help keep cholesterol levels controlled. You may be given information on diet from the transplant team.

The life expectancy after liver transplant depends on several factors. These include age, co-morbidities, the initial reason for the transplant and response to the medications the person is given after transplant. Most people who undergo liver transplant on an average may live for more than 10 years.

Some signs of liver rejection are high body temperature, jaundice, pain in your abdomen, severe headache, feeling hot and shivery and diarrhoea.

The minimum eligibility for a liver transplant includes clinical signs of liver failure and primary liver cancer. The eligible candidate should be healthy enough to undergo the surgery and recover well. They should also be not at risk of future alcohol and drug abuse.

Presently, there are more individuals who need a new liver compared to the number of donors. Hence, most people will be out on a transplant waiting list. When you are on the waiting list, the concerned team will monitor your liver’s health regularly and provide other treatments if required, like embolization, surgery or ablation.
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