We all are aware of the fact that the liver is the largest internal organ of the body in human adults. The liver is located on the right of the abdomen below the diaphragm. It’s not only the largest internal organ but also an organ that performs various complex functions of the body like:
- Removing the toxic byproducts of various medications.
- Helping the body to fight various infections by removing different harmful bacteria from the blood.
- Producing most of the proteins which are needed by the body.
- Producing most of the substances which helps in the regulation of the blood clotting.
- Metabolizing various nutrients from the food for energy production.
- Producing bile that is needed for absorbing vitamins like A, D, E, & K and digesting fats.
- Preventing the shortages of the nutrients by storing some sugar, and minerals.
Now, as the liver has to do so many complex functions, there are chances that it gets infected. Sometimes, the infections get too bad and damage the liver to such an extent that there is no option left than getting it transplanted. So, when the liver needs to be transplanted is what you will read in next subtopic.
WHEN IS LIVER TRANSPLANT NEEDED?
Liver transplantation is done when the liver stops doing its functions properly and there can be two causes for the acute failure: infections and complications from certain medications. The long term failure is very common and can be due to the reasons are given below:
- Primary biliary cirrhosis: It is a rare condition where the immune system attacks and destroys the bile ducts inappropriately.
- Wilson’s disease: It is a rare inherited disease where the copper deposits abnormally throughout the body, including the liver.
- Biliary atresia: It is simply the malfunctioning of the bile ducts.
- Sclerosing cholangitis: It is the narrowing and the scarring of the bile ducts outside and inside of the liver, which causes the bile backup in the liver, and therefore, failure.
- Hemochromatosis: It is an iron overload disease which is commonly inherited.
- Amyloidosis: It is the abnormal deposition of an abnormal protein known as amyloid in the liver, disrupting the normal liver functioning.
- Chronic hepatitis.
- Liver cancer.
Now, after knowing about when the liver transplant is needed, the next thing to know is the options. For that, read on to next subtopic.
LIVER TRANSPLANT OPTIONS
When you need a transplant, there needs to be donor organ which can be replaced with the damaged organ. Same goes with the liver. The liver transplant can be done in two ways and these are (a) living donor and (b) cadaveric.
The liver donor transplants are the options for those patients who have end-stage liver diseases. In the procedure, there is a liver segment taken from a living and healthy donor, which is implanted into the recipient. Both the liver segments grow to the adequate size within weeks. The living donor can be anyone but will have to pass through some examinations so that the risk levels can be made as less as possible.
In cadaveric liver transplants, the donor is usually a victim of the cerebral vascular accident or head injury. Further, there are two types of cadaveric donors; where both the types involve the patients suffering from the irreversible brain injury. After the cardiac death, the brain injury is extensive in the donation but the patient doesn’t meet the brain death criteria. After the heart stops, the donor is declared dead and the organs can be removed. In the brain dead donors, the brain activity isn’t there but the heart works.
PROCESS OF LIVER TRANSPLANT
Now, after knowing about all the important things, there is one thing that everyone wants to know and that is the procedure for the liver transplant. The surgery takes around 6 to 12 hours. During the surgery, the damaged liver is removed and replaced with the donor’s liver. There are various tubes placed in the patient’s body for carrying out various functions as the procedure is major and the functions of the body need to be performed during the surgery and after surgery for some days. One tube is placed to the windpipe from the mouth for regular and easy breathing during and after the surgery, which is attached to the ventilator for expanding the lungs mechanically.
There is another tube called nasogastric tube which is inserted through the nose into the stomach for draining the stomach secretions and stays till the bowel movements of the patient return to normal. Another tube called catheter is placed in the bladder for draining urine and is removed after some days of the surgery. There are many tubes that are placed in the abdomen for draining blood and fluid around the liver and it stays for around a week.
The liver transplant is something that must be considered if the liver damage is pretty high and no medication works. If you are feeling some pain in the liver area and the functioning isn’t proper, get yourself checked to a doctor so that the liver damage can be controlled soon and the situation to get your liver transplanted doesn’t come.