What is Liver Transplant?
Liver Transplant involves removing the whole or part of the Liver from a deceased or living donor and planting it in a patient suffering from an end stage Liver disease, after removing their diseased Liver.
The Department of Liver Transplantation at BLK Super Specialty Hospital (New Delhi) comprises of Surgeons, Anesthetists, Intensivists, Transplant Hepatologists & Gastroenterologists, Diagnostic Radiologists, Interventional Radiologists, Hepatopathologist, Clinical Microbiologists & Infectious Disease Specialists, Nephrologists, Cardiologist, Pulmonologist, Endocrinologist, Dentists, Gynecologists, Transfusion Medicine Specialists, Transplant Coordinators, Clinical Nurses, Clinical Psychologist, Dieticians, Physiotherapists, Medical & Radiation Oncologist, Technicians, Counselors, Specialized Nurses and Quality Control Staff who have exhaustive experience in the management of Gastrointestinal, Hepato-biliary and Pancreatic diseases. The mission of the team is to provide state of the art services using evidence based guidelines at an affordable cost. It also endeavors to pioneer training and research in the field of Digestive & Hepato Pancreato Biliary Sciences.
The hospital has all state of the art facilities capable of working 24x7. The Transplant team has the distinction of being one the most experienced in the region. The department deals with the entire spectrum of diseases of the liver, biliary tract and pancreas requiring surgical treatment and is one of the few centers in the country where living donor liver transplantation is being carried out regularly. Technically complex and challenging surgeries for diseases such as cancer gallbladder, hepatocellular carcinoma and pancreatic cancer are routinely performed. The team members have been trained at the best centers in the world and have vast experience in managing patients with liver disease and performing liver transplant in India. A competent nursing and technical support team ensures optimum and uncompromising patient care. The department has advanced critical care unit with 16 dedicated ICU beds. A typical Liver Transplant ICU unit has separate cubicles with laminar flow. The post-transplant patients being on immunosuppressive medications are immensely helped in their recovery following surgery by this unique design. The team is also backed up by an enthusiastic and hardworking team of Physiotherapists and Dieticians.
The team has been involved in over 700 liver transplant procedures and has established a successful transplant program which caters to both adult and pediatric patients with End Stage Liver Disease with results at par with the very best centres in the world. We have also been successful in establishing a Deceased Donor Transplant Program and have performed the maximum number of deceased donor organ recoveries and transplants last year in Northern India.
Who requires a Liver Transplant?
Liver Transplant may be necessary for patients who suffer from:
- Liver damage due to Alcoholism
- Long-term (chronic) active infection (Hepatitis B or C)
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
- Chronic Liver disease due to HCC
- Birth defects of the Liver or Bile Ducts (Biliary Atresia)
- Metabolic disorders associated with Liver failure (e.g. Wilson's disease, Haemochromatosis)
- Acute Liver Failure
Liver failure causes many problems, including malnutrition, problems with Ascites, Blood Clotting, Bleeding from the Gastrointestinal Tract and Jaundice. In most cases, patients who undergo Liver Transplant are very sick. They are hospitalised prior to surgery.
A healthy Liver is obtained either from a living donor or from a donor who has recently died (brain dead), but has not suffered Liver injury. The diseased Liver is removed through an incision made in the upper abdomen and the new Liver is put in place and attached to the patient's blood vessels and bile ducts. This procedure can take upto 12 hours to complete and may require large volumes of blood transfusions.
Patients are required to stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 weeks after the Liver Transplant, depending on the degree of illness. After the transplant, patients must take immunosuppressive medicines for the rest of their lives to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ by the body.
What are the different types of Liver Transplants?
A Liver is obtained from either a deceased or a living donor.
A Liver can be obtained from patients who are brain dead (declared dead clinically, legally, ethically and spiritually). Once a brain dead patient is identified and deemed as a potential donor, the blood supply to his body is maintained artificially. This is the principle of deceased organ donation. Young patients who die due to accidents, brain haemorrhage or other causes of sudden death are considered suitable donor candidates
The Liver has an amazing ability to regenerate itself if a part of it is removed. It takes the Liver 4 to 8 weeks to regenerate after the surgery. That’s why a healthy person can donate a part of his Liver. In a Live Donor Liver Transplant, a portion of the Liver is surgically removed from the live donor and transplanted into a recipient, immediately after the recipient’s Liver has been entirely removed.
Who can donate?
Doctors, transplant coordinators and other healthcare professionals who form the Liver Transplant team, with their experience, skill and technical expertise select the best donor for a living Donor Liver Transplant.
Potential live Liver donors are carefully evaluated and only those in good health are considered. The donor will be evaluated or cleared for donation by the Authorisation Committee. The health and safety of the donor is the most important parameter during the evaluation.
The potential donor should:
- Be a close or first degree relative or spouse
- Have a compatible blood type
- Be in overall good health and physical condition
- Be older than 18 years of age and younger than 55 years of age
- Have a near normal body mass index (not obese)
The donor must be free from:
- History of Hepatitis B or C
- HIV infection
- Alcoholism or frequent heavy alcohol consumption
- Any drug addiction
- Psychiatric illness currently under treatment
- A recent history of cancer
The donor should also have the same or compatible blood group
Blood group compatibility chart
|Patient Blood Group||Donor Blood Group|
|A||A or O|
|B||B or O|
|AB||A, B, AB or O|
Note: The Rh factor (+/-) of the blood type is not important in compatibility.
What are the positive aspects of living donation?
- Gifting an organ can save the life of a transplant candidate
- Donors have reportedly experienced positive emotions, including feeling good about giving life to a dying person
- Transplants can greatly improve recipient’s health and quality of life, allowing them to return to a normal life
- Transplant candidates generally have better results when they receive organs from living donors as compared to organs from deceased donors
- Better genetic matches between living donor and recipients may decrease risk of organ rejection
- A living donor makes it possible to schedule the transplant at a time that is convenient for both the donor and the transplant candidate
How soon does a donor recover after Liver donation?
The surgery and recovery process vary in different cases. If you are thinking of becoming a donor then you should consult the hospital transplant team to understand what to expect. You can also consider talking with other donors. As a Liver donor, you may stay in the hospital for upto 10 days or longer in some cases. The Liver typically regenerates in two months. Most Liver donors return to work and resume normal activities in about three months, although some may need more time.
Are there any risks in Liver Transplant?
The biggest risks associated with Liver Transplants are rejection and infection. Rejection occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the new Liver as an unwanted intruder, just as it would attack a virus. To prevent rejection, transplant patients must take drugs to suppress the immune system. However, because the immune system is weakened, it is harder for transplant patients to fight other infections. Fortunately, most infections can be treated with medicines.
What medicines do I have to take?
- Anti rejection drugs (Immunosuppressant Drugs)
- For the first three months after the transplant you need to take the following medicines:
- Antibiotics - to reduce the risk of infections
- Antifungal liquid - to reduce the risk of fungal infections
- Antacid - to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers and heartburns
- Any other medicines that you have to take will be prescribed depending on your symptoms
Why are Anti Rejection Drugs (Immunosuppressant Drugs) needed?
Our body isn't designed to readily accept another person's organs. It's the body’s natural instinct to attack and destroy a transplanted organ as a defence mechanism. Anti-rejection drugs make the defence mechanism weak against the transplanted organ and allow the Liver graft to sustain and work normally.
What precautions should I take after my Liver Transplant?
It is essential that everyone involved in the transplant procedure coordinate seamlessly to monitor the health of the patient, even after the operation. For the patient it is important to follow instructions given by their physicians and consultants, as these will help prevent or reduce the chances of any complications.
A patient's most important job is to ensure that the family physician, local pharmacist and their family members are aware of the transplant. The medications must be taken as prescribed and precautions must be observed. Every family member must have the telephone number of the patient’s Liver Transplant Consultant.
How long will my Transplanted Liver last?
Advances in surgery have made Liver Transplants extremely successful. Recipients have been known to live 30 years of normal life after the operation. The five-year survival rate for Liver Transplant patients is approx. 85-90%.
Some facts about Liver Transplant
- A Liver Transplant is needed when the Liver fails, usually because of a long-term disease
- About 1,00,000 people in India die of Liver failure every year
- The first successful Liver Transplant was done in 1967
- The number of Liver Transplants has been steadily increasing for more than 15 years
- Donated Livers can come from either deceased donors or living donors
- The five-year survival rate of Liver Transplant patients is over 85-90%
- India is the Centre of Excellence for Living Donor Liver Transplantation