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Liver Transplant Surgery : Procedure, Importance and Future of Liver Transplant Surgery

Liver Transplant Surgery
  • Sep 14
  • Transplant Programme

Your liver is an amazing organ and the largest, solid internal one in your body. Do you know what makes it fascinating and unique? It performs over 500 important tasks in the body. 
One of the significant functions of the liver is to prevent infections and regulate immunity. Another unique aspect of the liver is that it is the only organ in our body that can repair itself and regenerate its damaged tissue. Even if 70 percent of your liver is damaged, it can still function to keep you alive!

When do you need a liver transplant?

In rare cases when the healthy liver fails to function to its entire capacity, or if you have liver cancer, or even have several health complications due to end-stage chronic liver disease – which occurs over months and years, you may need an entirely new liver. In other words - a liver transplant. 
You may also need to undergo liver transplant surgery if you have liver cirrhosis or scarring of the liver usually due to excessive alcohol consumption.

How is a liver transplant surgery performed?

A liver transplant surgery is of two types. 
One - it involves removing the diseased and damaged liver, and replacing it with a part of the healthy liver from a living donor. This is possible because our body is able to survive and function normally even with a portion of a liver. The person who has donated part of her/his liver can expect the liver to regain its original size and function normally soon after the surgery. A living donor is usually a close family member or relative.
Two - your damaged liver is surgically removed and transplanted with a healthy liver from a deceased donor. 

Before the surgery

To assess if you are healthy enough to have the transplant surgery and be able to endure certain risks from taking the lifelong medications, your hepatologist (liver doctor) will ask you to undergo a few tests such as:

  • Blood and urine examination to measure the health of your organs including the liver
  • Heart check to determine the strength of your cardiovascular system
  • Imaging tests such as an ultrasound scan of your liver
  • General evaluation of your health to check for any underlying ailments that could impact the successful result of the transplant

The results of these tests are then examined by the highly proficient Transplant Team of expert hepatologists, liver transplant surgeons, liver donor coordinators, nutritionists, psychologist,s and counsellors to certify your health condition and set the date for the surgery.

Since the donor too will have to undergo the surgery to remove a part of the liver, she/he will also require preliminary tests to be certified healthy enough to donate a portion of the organ. 
The Transplant Team will then inform the donor about the risks, medications, and care following the transplant surgery.

During the surgery

You and the donor will be sedated under general anesthesia during the transplant procedure. 
The transplant surgeon first operates on the donor by removing a portion of the liver.
The surgeon then makes an incision along your abdomen, removes the damaged liver, and replaces it with the donor’s portion of the liver. Your bile ducts and blood vessels are then precisely connected to the newly transplanted liver to set it working normally. 
A liver transplant surgery can take up to 12 hours considering the highly dexterous and intricate nature of the complete procedure.

The importance of liver transplant

You cannot survive without your liver. Sometimes, you may not even notice you have a liver disease for several months or years till you have typical symptoms. This is called chronic liver disease where your liver can stop working. This end-stage condition can be life-threatening. The only solution to keep you alive is a liver transplant. 
Having a liver transplant is like getting a second chance at living. Because statistics reveal that a liver transplant has excellent results for the recipient. In fact, studies also prove that recipients of a liver transplant have been known to live a normal life for over 30 years after the transplant surgery.

Benefits outweigh the risks

Any surgery involves some risks or complications. You could also suffer side-effects from the medications such as immune suppressants.
One of the most common risks of a liver transplant is a rejection of the new organ. However, there are advanced medications to take care of all of these reactions.
The advantages of a successful liver transplant are:

  • Most liver transplant recipients have a better quality of life
  •  A majority of them live longer
  • The recipients are able to live a normal life of work and play

The future of liver transplants is in constant innovation and making life better for those who need it the most. 

About Fortis

With 28 hospitals across the nation and over 4000+ beds, Fortis Healthcare Limited is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in India. For over 26 years, Fortis Hospitals have been committed to the cause of getting people back to their lives faster and stronger.

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