Liver transplant is a process in which a non-functioning liver, as a result of liver failure, is removed surgically and replaced with a whole or partially healthy liver. While undergoing liver cancer surgery, if functioning of liver is very poor then liver transplant is mandatory as removing of only the affected area may cause liver failure. For replacement, a liver can be obtained from a living or deceased donor.
Since, no device or machine can perform functions of liver in a reliable manner, transplantation is the only option in case of liver failure patients.
Patients who require liver transplants, usually suffer from acute or chronic liver failure. Usually, liver transplant is reserved as an optional treatment for patients suffering from serious complications such as end-stage chronic liver disease. There are rare cases of sudden liver failure reported.
Important considerations for a liver donation:
A volunteer or any family member including parent, sibling, spouse or child can donate their liver to the patient in need of liver transplant. Given below are requirements for a liver to be donated.
- The liver needs to be in healthy condition
- Ideally, it should have blood group compatibility with blood group of recipient.
- Donor needs to be between the age range of 18 to 60 years old.
- A charitable desire, over financial motive, is expected for liver donation.
- The size of liver to be donated needs to be matched with that of recipient.
- Physical fitness of living donor needs to be ensured prior to surgery. This involves CT scan or MRIs for imaging the liver conditions. This whole process may take 2 to 3 weeks to complete in most of the cases.
Liver transplant is mainly of three types:
Living donor transplant: Liver is taken from a living donor in this type of liver transplant. Usually donors are close family members. The process of transplant involves removal of left or right lobe from the donor's liver. It is recommended to take right lobe of the liver in case of adults while for children, transplants of left lobe are suggested. Since right lobe of the liver is bigger in size, it is suitable for adults whereas, smaller size left lobe is suitable for children.
Orthotopic transplant: This is the most common type of liver transplant. Here, a liver from the body of deceased (recently) donor is taken.
Split donation: When a liver is available from a recently deceased donor, and both a child and an adult can receive half part of the same liver, a split donation is carried out. In such case, a liver to be donated will be divided into two parts; left and right. The smaller left lobe of liver will be transplanted into the child while bigger right part will be transplanted into an adult receiver.