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Liver Transplant

Liver Transplant Surgery

Liver transplant is a major surgery performed to replace a diseased, non-functioning liver with a healthy one from a donor. The donated healthy liver can come from someone recently deceased, or from a healthy person who is ready to donate part of his or her liver, knowing that liver cells are able to regenerate and multiply.

 Causes for Liver Transplant

 The liver is a wonderful organ that performs more than 400 roles including:

  •  Prevents blood clotting
  • Produces bile, an important agent of digestion
  • Stores sugars, fats, copper, iron and vitamins
  • Removes bacteria and toxins from the blood

 What are the most common causes for liver transplantation?

  •  Biliary atresia  (in children)
  • Cirrhosis – It is a permanent scarring that prevents the liver from normal functioning. Two of the most common causes are:​
  1. Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C along with long-term infections
  2. Alcoholic abuse 
  •  Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Thrombosis – or hepatic vein blood clot
  • Liver damage – from medications or poisoning
  • Biliary tract problems​:
  1. Primary biliary cirrhosis
  2. Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  3. Wilson’s disease
  4. Hemochromatosis


Risks for Liver Transplant Surgery 

Liver transplant carries major risks, not only during the surgical procedure but also during the post-operational management. It is important that the patient take the medication as prescribed to prevent transplant rejection.

Further complications include:

  • Anesthesia related problems (breathing difficulty and reactions to medications)
  • Bleeding
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Drainage
  • Jaundice
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling

 Liver Transplant Surgery Procedure

 At the transplant center, the multidisciplinary transplant team make sure that the patient is in good health condition for liver transplantation. The patient undergoes minute physical examination, lab tests and imaging tests to justify eligibility.

 Some other tests include:

  • Tissue and blood type match
  • EKG
  • Echocardiogram 
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Early cancer tests
  • Tests for other organs and blood vessels
  • Colonoscopy 

 While the patient is on the waiting list, the doctor will recommend to:

  •  Follow a special diet
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking
  • Follow an exercise program
  • Take prescribed medicines

 The basic procedure plan for conducting liver transplants is as follows: 

  1. The donor liver is extracted through a surgical cut in the upper abdomen.
  2. It is then kept in a saline solution to preserve it for up to 8 hours and transported to the clinic where liver transplant surgery will be performed. 
  3. During the surgical procedure, the donor liver is placed into the recipient and attached to the blood vessels and bile ducts

Liver transplantation is a major inpatient procedure, which takes up to 12 hours and  requires large amount of transfusion blood.

After the procedure, regular blood tests are performed and immunosuppressant drugs are administered for the rest of the patient’s life.

 Liver Transplant Cost

 Depending on the clinic, the organ type, the options for preliminary testing, surgery and post-op recovery program, liver transplant cost can go up to $600,000. Insurance coverage may fully or parcially finance the transplant procedure.

Patients facing liver transplants are advised to get informed about the financing options available at the clinic or hospital of their choice. The list of costs associated with liver transplantation include:

  •  Lab tests
  • Hospital stay
  • Transplant surgeons and room personnel fees
  • Anesthesia
  • Post-operation care
  • Organ tansportation
  • Physical therapy and rehab
  • Anti-rejection drugs
Patients need a matching donor before enquiring about a transplant