When one needs a new liver or if one wants to give away a part of their liver then one has to contemplate a lot before zeroing down to their decision and then can go ahead with the transplant surgery. Just like any other surgical procedures there are also some benefits and some risks related to this.
But the question is, why at all a liver transplantation is done? Well, this procedure is considered as a treatment option only if there are significant complications due to some end stage chronic liver disease. There are some rare cases when there is a sudden chance of a liver failure and to prevent that, a liver transplant is recommended.
But liver transplant in India and in other countries as well is a long process. This is because; if one needs a donor then the patient has to wait for long in order to get a liver from a deceased donor. The human liver regenerates again and returns to its normal size just after the surgical removal of its part. That is what the living donor transplant procedure it and it can be an alternative when a critical patient is waiting for a deceased donor to be available.
Here are some positive sides of the liver transplantation:
- The first and foremost thing is that the liver grows back. If one is going to donate a part of the liver then they might get worried that a part of their vital organ will be lost and it will hurt their health. But that is not the case. One can lose their liver up to 75 percent and then it will eventually grow back to its normal size again. Then it works absolutely fine and it is totally functional. In fact, immediate after the surgery, the liver regenerates and reaches to its normal size within 6 to 8 weeks. Liver is the only organ in the entire human body which can do this and so it becomes possible for the surgeon to do a living donor transplant. But yes, one can have complications after the process. According to medical studies, one can get hernia, bile leaks, bleeding, infections or blood clots. There are some rare cases where the part of the liver which has been donated can stop working and it can be actually a life threatening situation. But this is a very are case. When one receives a liver then there are chances that one can get a narrowed bile duct which can be treated later separately.
- It is said that the transplants from the living donors are very smooth process. This is because the livers from the living donors are outside the body for a very little amount of time than the ones that is coming from a deceased donor. But whether one gets a liver from the living donor or the deceased donor the result is more or less the same when the short term is over.
- There is more control over the process when it comes to liver transplantation. In most cases, the living donor transplant mainly happens from close friends or family members. If one already knows that someone is able and willing to give a part of the liver then one can get the transplantation done more quickly. Also one does not have to wait for a deceased donor for the liver as well. If one gets a liver from someone they know then it also becomes easier to schedule the surgery. The donor will also get a chance to figure out what can be convenient for them.
- There is mostly a health insurance generated for the person who is getting a new liver from the donor and hence this can easily cover the expense of the donor, that includes all the processes before transplant evaluations, surgery, and the time of hospital stay along with the follow up recovery care. If one is a donor, then their insurance company may have to only pay for their prescribed pain medications and sometimes some post hospital care.
There are certain flip sides of the liver transplantation as well. Here are some:
- Once the transplantation is over then the recipients may need medications for the rest of their lives. Whether the liver comes from a living donor or a dead donor there will be a big boost in the health. But when the new liver enters the body it still remains the stranger to the body. One thus needs to take drugs so that they can keep their immune system strong and prevent the germs from harming the liver anymore. But these medications sometimes have side effects as well. This can induce diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But a change of lifestyle is a must once the transplantation is done. One has to keep meeting health experts on and off and also need a dietician to plan their everyday food which is healthy and can be easily digestible as well.
- Once the transplantation is done, one will be sidelined for a few days. Though this may seem as a negative side but this is for the patient’s own good. Once the patient gets a new liver then they are kept in the intensive care unit for at least 2 weeks. If one has donated a part of their liver then also it takes a bit of time to recover. Here, the donors are kept in the hospital for a week and they are strictly asked to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol.
- In some cases the patient after the transplant may wake up to pain. Where one give or take the liver one gets hurt at the spot where the surgeon cuts the body. But here, the transplant recipient gets less pain as compared to the donor. Also this happens because they stay under heavy steroids which can mask the pain. The donors are given some pain medications to resist the pain though.
Hence one needs to consider all these things before going for the procedure.