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What do you mean by Liver transplant?

A liver transplant is a surgical replacement of a failing liver with a healthy liver taken from a donor’s body. You can either receive a whole liver from a recently deceased donor or a portion of a liver from a living donor. A divided liver can regrow to full size in both your body and the body of the living donor.

Why would a person require a Liver transplant?

Some people with liver cancer and those with liver failure whose condition cannot be controlled with other treatments may benefit from a liver transplant.

The following conditions may eventually necessitate a liver transplant:

  • A previously healthy liver suffers from acute liver failure. Toxic poisoning or infection could cause harm.
  • The end stage of chronic, progressive liver disease is chronic liver failure. It usually means that scar tissue has replaced too much of your liver tissue, which has no blood flow. This is also known as liver cirrhosis.
  • Primary liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is a form of cancer that develops in the liver. If cancer does not spread beyond your liver, removing the liver can cure it.

What is the risk associated with a Liver transplant?

Some of the most severe complications associated with liver transplants are as follows:

  • Your body rejecting the newly formed liver
  • Bleed (hemorrhage)
  • The new liver is not functioning within the first few hours (primary non-function), necessitating a recent transplant as soon as possible.
  • An increased risk of contracting infections
  • Loss of kidney function
  • Problems with blood flow to the liver
  • Increased risk of certain types of cancer, particularly skin cancer

What can you expect before the Liver transplant procedure?

The following events occur before your liver transplant surgery:

  • Being added to a waiting list
    Your liver function tests and other factors will determine your severity, urgency, and liver transplant waiting list position. Scoring determines transplant waiting list priority. Doctors use the MELD score for adults and the PELD score for children under 12. Using a formula, your doctor will calculate your MELD score, ranging from 6 to 40. The score predicts 90-day mortality without a transplant. High MELD scores indicate urgent transplantation. Blood type and MELD scores are used to classify and distribute deceased-donor organs. Higher MELD scores get donated livers first. The liver transplant waiting list breaks MELD and blood type ties. Liver cancer may not raise a MELD score. The transplant center can request MELD points for specific diseases if they meet exception criteria.
  • Awaiting a new liver
    The time it takes to find a donor’s liver can vary greatly. Some people must wait days, while others must wait months or may never get a deceased-donor liver. The complications of your liver failure will be treated by your doctor to keep you as comfortable as possible while you wait for a new liver. End-stage liver failure complications are serious, and you may need to be hospitalized frequently. Your MELD score is updated if your liver deteriorates.
  • Maintaining health
    Maintain your health whether you are awaiting a liver donation or have already undergone transplant surgery. Being as healthy and active as possible can increase your chances of being ready for transplant surgery when the time comes. It may also help you recover faster from surgery. Maintain contact with your transplant team and notify them of any significant changes in your health. If you’re waiting for a transplanted liver, ensure the transplant team always knows how to reach you. Keep your hospital bag packed and plan for transportation to the transplant center ahead of time.

What experiences do you encounter during a Liver transplant procedure?

  • Transplantation of the liver from a deceased donor:
    You’ll be called to the hospital if a deceased donor’s liver becomes available. Your doctor will admit you to the hospital and check your health before the surgery. General anesthesia puts you to sleep during liver transplant surgery. The liver transplant surgeon cuts across your stomach. Your surgeon and anatomy determine your incision’s location and size. The surgeon replaces your liver with a donor’s liver. The surgeon connects your blood vessels and bile ducts to the donor’s liver. Your situation may require a 12-hour surgery. After installing your new liver, the surgeon stitches and staples the incision. You recover in the ICU.
  • Transplantation of the liver from a living donor:
    Your procedure will be arranged in advance if you are undergoing a living donor liver transplant. Surgeons begin by operating on the donor, extracting the piece of the liver that will be transplanted. The donated liver piece is then implanted in your body by surgeons. The new liver is then connected to your blood vessels and bile ducts. The transplanted liver component in your body and the portion left in the donor’s body recover quickly, reaching average volume in a few weeks.

What experiences do you encounter after a Liver transplant procedure is done?

You can expect the following after your liver transplant:

Stay in the ICU for a few days. Your medical team will be keeping a close eye out for any signs of problems. They will monitor your liver function closely to look for clear signals that your replacement liver is doing its job.

Get regular checkups as you recover at home. The transplant clinic will create a checkup plan just for you. The frequency of your blood tests may gradually decrease from several times weekly to less frequently.

Take a check on your medication. Following your liver transplant, you will be required to take several medications. You’ll have to take a lot of these throughout the rest of your life. Immunosuppressants are medications that prevent your immune system from attacking your new liver. Some medications help to lower the chance of problems following your transplant.

What is the result of a Liver transplant?

The likelihood of a successful liver transplant and subsequent long-term survival is conditional. Around 75% of patients who receive a liver transplant will survive for at least five years. Liver transplant recipients with a living donor frequently have higher short-term survival rates than those with a deceased donor liver. Long-term comparisons are challenging since liver recipients from a living donor often have a shorter wait time and are less unwell than those who receive a liver from a deceased donor.

What diet and nutrition should you follow after a Liver transplant?

Consuming a well-balanced diet after your liver transplant is vital to help you recover and keep your liver healthy. Your dietician will also present various healthy food selections and nutrition plan ideas. Some of your dietitian’s recommendations are as follows:

  • Salt, cholesterol, fat, and sugar should all be limited in your diet.
  • Have no alcoholic beverages or use alcohol in your cooking.
  • Daily consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided due to their interaction with a class of immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Getting adequate fibre in your diet regularly
  • Choosing whole grains versus processed grains
  • Consuming low-fat or fat-free dairy products is essential for maintaining adequate calcium and phosphorus levels.
  • Consumption of lean meats, poultry, and seafood
  • Observing food safety regulations

Keeping hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids every day

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