Positive Liver Transplant Stories – Tales About Transplants

Positive liver transplant stories are many, because though a liver transplant is a procedure that is fraught with a number of complications during and after the surgery, the success rate behind the procedure has been growing at a steady pace. The liver transplant complications can be minor or as serious as transplant rejection. The post liver transplant care is important and the healthy habits to be maintained during the liver transplant recovery period must be followed as prescribed.

Real Life Liver Transplant Stories

Given below are true examples of people who went for the liver transplant procedure and are now leading perfectly normal lives. If you’re waiting to undergo a transplant, you and your family members can take heart from such liver transplant patient stories.

Liver Transplant Stories – Kevin Stewart’s Indian Connection

A living donor donated a part of her liver to her brother. The patient who needed the liver transplant was Kevin Stewart, a middle aged man whose health was in excellent condition until he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. His sister Jo-Ann Hall was the donor in this case.

 

liver transplant stories - apollo hospitals

Apollo Hospitals has seen a fair share of successful liver transplant stories

Since Kevin did not have any medical insurance, it was hard for him to get onto a waiting list for a liver in the United States. He tried in most known locations in the U.S. including the Mayo Clinic where he would be charged about $35,000 for an assessment without a promise of being put on the waiting list, and another $30,000 if he wished to get onto the waiting list for a cadaver or deceased donor liver transplant. The actual procedure in the US costs upto $300,000.

Kevin’s sister found out about the Apollo Clinic in New Delhi, India, through the internet. The Chief Executive Officer of medical tourism contacted him and forwarded Kevin’s case to the clinic at New Delhi.

He was accepted and decided to travel to India to get a liver transplant. He spoke to his sister Jo about this and she was more than willing to donate a part of her liver to him.

At a significantly lesser expense of $70,000, the two of them flew to India, had a successful liver transplant surgery, enjoyed the excellent treatment at Apollo Hospital (inclusive of bed and breakfast charges during the recovery period) and flew back to the States.

The CEO even had an internet connection installed for them so that they could talk to their family via web cam before the procedure. Jo- Ann Hall and Kevin Stewart were the first North Americans to have a successful liver transplant in India. As of June 2011, Apollo Hospitals have completed 102 liver transplantations of which 13 have been done on foreigners.

Liver Transplant Stories – The Steve Jobs Story

One of the most famous stories that’s come to light in recent years is that of Steve Jobs. According to his doctors, Steve Jobs was suffering from an end stage liver which meant that he was desperately in need of a liver to survive.

He went through the same procedure and tests that every patient undergoes and after months of blood tests, cardiograms and CT scans, he finally found a match at the Methodist University Hospital at Memphis.

positive liver transplant stories - steve jobs

Positive Liver Transplant Stories – Steve Jobs’ Experience

Since Jobs was the most critical patient in his blood group at that time, he was given a call from the transplant unit saying that they had found him a match. In mid April 2009, Steve Jobs underwent liver transplant surgery and the operation was carried out without any complications.

He continues his advocacy for organ donation and encourages people to mention that they are organ donors in their driving licenses.

Not only do these liver transplant stories represent the emotional strength of the people who go through such procedures, but also the rational choices that they make while facing such stressful situations.

Post Liver Transplant Complications and How to Avoid Them

Studies in the field have shown that post liver transplant complications don’t surface in around 90% of the cases. This does not mean, however, that there are no precautions that need to be taken post surgery.

Avoiding Post Liver Transplant Complications

Liver transplant procedures involve lots of long term risks that can surface 10 or 15 years after the procedure is performed. There are a number of factors attributed to this, and you should take up a proper diet along with regular medication in order to avoid post liver transplant complications.

Medication

It is crucial that you continue to take the medication prescribed by the transplant team and your general physician. The immunosuppressant prescribed is not just for the recovery period.

These medicines continue acting on the body’s immune system so that the liver stays safe. Another factor that can cause an undesirable reaction is the mixing up of medication.

post liver transplant complications - medication

Never mix up medications in order to avoid post liver transplant complications

Corticosteroids and inhibitors are dangerous when mixed with other medication. This can cause long term side effects or other disorders. You need to consult a medical practitioner and the transplant team before taking any new kind of medication.

An immunosuppressant can also cause infection if not taken as per the prescribed dosage or if ingested in a haphazard manner. Since the immune system has to fight off infections every day, a large number of chemicals and cells are produced by the body.

Doctors prescribe the required amount that will help the body attack other foreign objects but maintain a balance, so that an excess of chemicals and cells do not attack the body. Taking the medicines as prescribed is the safest way to care for your liver.

Diet

Most patients who develop post liver transplant complications usually develop these due to the consumption of alcohol.

post liver transplant complications

Post liver transplant complications often surface due to drinking or smoking

The alcohol puts stress on the liver to filter more waste matter and in this process cells die causing scarring, which may lead to cirrhosis. It is essential to consume a nutritious diet and get all the necessary proteins, carbohydrates and fats that will keep you fit. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol as much as possible to maintain a healthy life after liver transplant.

Illness

In case of any illness, it is best to consult a doctor who is aware of your liver transplant. In case you note any symptoms after liver transplant and note that your liver is failing, contact the transplant team immediately.

They will run tests to determine if the current illness has anything to do with the liver transplant. Visits to the doctor are recommended every six months as a clean bill of health means that there is one less thing to worry about.

Cancer

Skin cancer and hepatitis are common long term post liver transplant complications. It is imperative that you use sun block creams to protect yourself from harmful ultra-violet rays. Viral hepatitis originates from unclean surroundings and from contaminated water.

It is essential that the food and water you consume are clean. If you are visiting a country where diseases or unhygienic conditions are prevalent then get vaccinated before leaving.

Liver transplants give a new lease of life to people with failed livers. A proper diet, regular light exercise, consistent medication and a healthy lifestyle can help ensure that the long term complications of liver damage are prevented.

Studies performed by various institutes all over the world converge to say that more than 70% of the patients who have had a liver transplant live long and healthy lives without any post liver transplant complications. All that you need to do is eat a well tailored diet, follow your doctor’s advice and seek medical help once you note some common complications. You can read successful liver transplant stories to know more about the people who have undergone the liver transplant surgery and are leading healthy lives.

 

Liver Transplant Recovery – Post Discharge Treatment and Care

Liver transplant recovery is important because although a liver transplant is a common surgical procedure, it is fraught with numerous complications. Once you are discharged after the liver transplant surgery, the nurse will fill out your schedule for medication and your post transplant prescription.

Liver Transplant Recovery Information

It is better to discuss the medication schedule beforehand with the doctor so that you don’t have any doubts later. You should familiarize yourself with the medication and let a family member or your spouse do the same.

A list of the prescribed medicines should always be kept in your wallet, close at hand to help you during liver transplant recovery.

Post Surgery Discharge

The coordinator will discuss and review the different aspects that you need to keep in mind once you’re home. It is recommended that you seek liver transplant recovery advice from known medical practitioners and the transplant team itself in case you have any more concerns regarding your condition. The transplant unit will then call you up and make appointments.

liver transplant recovery

Regular blood tests are carried out during the liver transplant recovery phase

In most cases, you’ll need to meet the doctor twice a week for the first three weeks after being discharged to check for post liver transplant complications, and following this you’ll need to meet the physician once a week for 8 to 10 weeks and after that once every two weeks.

Blood tests and electrocardiograms will be scheduled during these visits to see if there are any abnormalities. The liver function will also be tested from time to time. Any symptoms of rejection or doubts regarding them should be raised immediately and without hesitation.

The First Few Weeks after Discharge

The first few weeks after your discharge may be very boring and many people tend to face anxiety during this time. It is imperative that the prescribed course of medication is followed in order to avoid any complications that can crop up during recovery after liver transplant.

Following this will help you return to your lifestyle and you will be back to normal in about 8-10 months.

Once this is done, you can get back to taking up workout routines, regular work, performing household chores and even follow an active sex life. The checkups after this will mostly be done once every six months at first and then only once every year. These checkups will be conducted by the transplant team.

liver transplant recovery medication

It is essential for your spouse to know about your liver transplant recovery medication

The Surroundings You Live In

As the immune system is generally suppressed due to the medication, don’t stay in an environment that is prone to infections. Consult your doctor in case you feel any discomfort. Any medication that you take should be cleared by the doctor before you take it.

If you have had your liver transplant abroad, then you can ideally return to your home country in a year to avoid frequent flying during checkups. You should also consult with your transplant unit regarding this.

For women, life after getting a new liver can be normal. However, pregnancy and birth have to be closely monitored as there will be an increased risk of premature births.

New born babies should not be fed mother’s milk as there is a high chance that the immunosuppressant can be ingested by the infant. A survey conducted by the Elsevier, Global Medical News, mentions that out of a group of 160 women who got pregnant after a liver transplant, 10% lost their graft after pregnancy.

Once you know what to expect during the phase of your liver transplant recovery, you can keep a stern eye on the smallest of symptoms that your body might exhibit.

Post Liver Transplant Procedure – After the Surgery

The post liver transplant phase can be a very trying time for the affected individual and his close kin and friends. If you are scheduled to undergo a liver transplant procedure or know someone who will be getting one, read on to know more about the steps taken in the post liver transplant phase that follows the surgical procedure.

What Happens Post Liver Transplant

When the liver transplant surgery is deemed a success, you will be shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In the ICU, you will be kept under observation for the first few days to keep an eye out for any post liver transplant complications. Your heart rate, urine and vital bodily functions will be closely monitored as even a small deviation can lead to further complications.

post liver transplant checking

The vitals of the individual need to be checked regularly post liver transplant

The transplant unit keeps a keen eye on the processes to see how your body is adjusting to the new liver. The new liver should be able to perform all the functions necessary in a timely and coordinated manner.

Removing the Ventilator After Liver Transplant

After the first two to three days, the tube that helps you breathe and the ventilator are removed as you will be able to breathe on your own. Other tubes that were initially put in, like the tube that passes from the nose to the stomach and the T tube that is used to monitor the bile levels, are also gradually removed as body functions return to normal.

You will begin to feel much better three or four days post liver transplant and your appetite will be back to normal. You may also move around a little but you need to be careful because strenuous work may cause your stitches to tear, and you might experience bleeding in such a case too.

In general, doctors find that patients feel much better and recover faster in their own homes, but in some cases, complications can arise and the patient may need to stay put in the hospital.

It is better to be prepared for a stay in the hospital for a month or so. Your doctors may also suggest simple exercises so that your muscles don’t atrophy.

Leaving the ICU After Liver Transplant

Once you are moved from the intensive care unit to the nursing floor, the doctors will be ready to discharge you from the hospital. The nurses will then hand out a copy of a discharge manual which contains all the information that you might need when you get back home regarding post liver transplant care. You can request to hire a nurse for a week or two to help you around the house and in taking your medications.

post liver transplant

Patients are increasingly opting for professional post liver transplant care

The doctor will also help you schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist if you need to talk to someone regarding the surgery. Nurses can teach you how to take your new medication and how to check your blood pressure when needed. They will also provide essential information regarding the symptoms of organ rejection or infection so that you can call the doctor at the first visible sign of rejection.

It is better to stay with a couple of relatives instead of being on your own for the first few months post liver transplant surgery during the liver transplant recovery period. This will help you recover faster. According to a survey by the Royal College of Engineers of England, the number of patients opting for post liver transplant care in a hospital has increased by about 10 times in the last five years.

Liver Transplant Rejection – Signs and Management

Liver transplant rejection, also called organ rejection, is a very serious concern that comes along with liver transplants or other similar procedures. The main cause for rejection is because your immune system attacks the foreign object, i.e. the new liver.

Liver Transplant Rejection Signs

The symptoms and signs of organ transplant rejection include feeling tired all the time, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. As the rejection continues, other organ rejection symptoms are observed, such as:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the liver area
  • Change in color of urine. It has a darkish tone
  • The color of your stool becomes pale as bile is not produced
  • Jaundice

These symptoms are commonly observed in most cases. In some liver transplant rejection cases however there may be almost no symptoms of rejection. A liver biopsy is a more definitive way to determine the condition of organ rejection. In a liver biopsy, a small piece of the liver is taken and viewed under a microscope.

If the organ is rejected, then the transplant unit and the doctor will run more tests to see if another transplant would be possible. Once this is confirmed, they will immediately place you on the waiting list. Once the transplant is successfully carried out, you will be shifted to an ICU.

The liver transplant recovery will take time and it is better to stay put in the hospital for three to four weeks at the very least. Once you’re home, there should be no rush to get back to work or to perform household chores. Apply as little stress on the new liver as possible.

Liver Transplant Rejection Management

Immunosuppressants

As the biggest risk to the new liver is caused by the immune system that attacks it, medicines are prescribed to suppress the body’s immune system, thus preventing liver transplant rejection. These medicines are called immunosuppressants. During the first four to five months, there will be a relatively high risk of organ rejection, and this is when the dose of immunosuppressants will be high.

As time goes by, the dosage will either reduce or increase based on how well the new liver is functioning in the body. There are two types of immunosuppressants associated with liver transplants.

Calcineurin Inhibitors

There is a type of white blood cells called T cells, which are used by the immune system to fight off infections. When doing this, the immune system invariably attacks the new liver.

liver transplant rejections

Rashes are side effects that rise when liver transplant rejection is countered

The inhibitors work by shielding the effects of calcineurin, a protein that activates the T cells. Tacrolimus and Ciclosporin are inhibitors which are used widely. They are given either in the form of injections, capsules or tablets.

Tacrolimus Side Effects

Side effects commonly associated with Tacrolimus include:

  • Tremors
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Loss of hair
  • Seizures
  • Skin rashes
  • Itchy skin
  • Mental fluctuations
  • Diarrhea

Ciclosporin Side Effects

Side effects commonly associated with Ciclosporin include:

  • Numbness in different body parts
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Chronic headaches
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increase in growth of skin hair
  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Tremors

If you are consuming other medication in addition to these immunosuppressants, it is recommended that you consult your general practitioner or a member of the transplant unit before continuing.

The reaction of the inhibitors with other medicines is not always predictable and can cause catastrophic damage if taken without a consultation.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids act by turning off the gene that releases chemicals, which the immune system uses to attack the donated liver. They penetrate the walls of the cells of the immune system.

liver transplant rejection signs

Corticosteroids are used to work against liver transplant rejection

Prednisolone is the most widely used corticosteroid in the case of liver transplantation rejection. The side effects of prednisolone include:

  • Mood swings
  • Retention of fluid
  • Increase in weight
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Ulcers in throat and mouth

Some people may also develop mental issues when on prednisolone. These may include:

  • Thoughts about suicide
  • Hallucinations (hearing and seeing things which are unreal)
  • Paranoia
  • A state of confusion and unclear thoughts

If you are unsure about the drugs you are taking or have a doubt about the course of medication, consult the surgical team or your medical practitioner immediately.

A study regarding the efficacy of corticosteroids showed that among a select group of 152 patients, 85% who were on them for the recommended doses showed no sign of rejection in the first 72 hours and a 78% probability of having no degeneration in the new liver for a further three months.

You’ll need to stay updated about the many liver transplant rejection signs in order to ensure that management steps are taken right away. Post liver transplant complications must always be checked for once the liver transplant surgery is completed. Always consult your medical practitioner in case you have any doubts or worries.

Liver Transplant Complications – The Risks Involved

Liver transplant complications are common, although the liver transplant surgery is a procedure that is performed on a day to day basis. Listed below are some of the complications that can arise either during or after the procedure.

Liver Transplant Complications – The Many Problems

Liver Transplant Complications #1 – Acute Liver Rejection

This is the most common complication that occurs in almost 40% of the cases in the first two weeks after the procedure. This generally happens when the newly donated liver is attacked by the body’s immune system as it recognizes the new liver as a foreign object. The symptoms associated with acute liver rejection include:

  • Fever (above 100.5 F or 38 degree Celsius)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Itchy skin

In most cases, these symptoms can be managed by increasing the dose of corticosteroids the patient is on or by replacing the current calcineurin inhibitor with another. In this way acute transplant rejection can be managed successfully.

Liver Transplant Complications #2 – Infection

Infections are another serious worry as the slightest inconsistency can cause an infection of the liver. Calcineurin Inhibitors and corticosteroids are effective antibiotics which make the body’s immune system invulnerable to infections. The most common infections include:

Fungal Infections

Patients who have just had undergone a liver transplant procedure are generally affected by liver transplant problems like candidiasis and aspergillosis. The symptoms brought on by these infections vary generally based on which body part is affected by it. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness and scaling of the skin
  • A whitish thick fluid discharge from the vagina in case of vaginal infection

Fungal infections are more invasive and hence more serious. These generally attack your bloodstream and lungs (fungal pneumonia). The symptoms associated with these include:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • High temperatures
  • Disorientation and confusion

Minor infections may also get worse if the patient is taking an immunosuppressant. In case any of the below mentioned symptoms persist; it is recommended that you call the transplant team.

Antifungal creams and other tablets can handle non-invasive fungal infections, but in case of invasive infections it is better to get admitted to a hospital where the doctors or the transplant team can begin treatment through a course of antifungal injections.

Antifungal injections are meant to fight off any fungal infections. The injections are administered for months after the transplant. Listed below are a few side effects of Fluconazole, a common antifungal medication.

  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash

CMV Infection (Cytomegalovirus)

The symptoms of Cytomegalovirus include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Appetite loss
  • Occurrence of ulcers in mouth and stomach
  • High temperature
  • Pain in the joints
  • Visual problems like blind spots

In case you have any doubts regarding a CMV infection, contact a general physician or the transplant unit.

Liver Transplant Complications #3 – Diabetes

Diabetes (type II) is a serious and common complication that affects one out of five people after a liver transplant. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Feeling very tired
  • Loss of weight
liver transplant complications

Diabetes is one of the main liver transplant complications

Liver Transplant Complications #4 – Kidney Failure

Yet another one among the common liver transplant risks is kidney failure. It may occur within the timeframe of three to five years after the procedure. Under kidney failure, the kidneys lose their ability to filter waste from the blood. Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Swollen hands, feet or ankles
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

Liver Transplant Complications #5 – Graft Failure

Graft failure is a serious concern for patients undergoing liver transplants as it can affect at least one person in every 14. Under graft failure, the transplanted liver does not function correctly. Its symptoms include:

  • Reduced urine output
  • Seizures
  • Low consciousness levels
  • Muscle spasms
  • Double vision
  • Coma (worst case)

The only cure for this is to transplant a new liver.

Liver Transplant Complications #6 – Post Transplant Lympho Proliferative Disorder

It is a rather rare condition and occurs in one out of 50 people. The symptoms are:

  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Loss of weight
  • High temperature
  • Difficulty in breathing because of swollen tonsils
  • Diarrhea
  • Night sweats

Liver Transplant Complications #7 – Cancer

There is an increased risk of developing cancer among patients who have a transplanted liver. The different types of cancer that can be contracted include:

  • Lymphoma
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Kaposi’s Sarcoma (cancer that is underneath the skin)
liver transplant complications risks

Patients are prone to liver transplant complications like cancer

A recent multicenter Belgian survey showed that there has been a reduction of almost 60% in the number of complications arising after or during a liver transplant in the last five years. This is definitely heartening information, as the surgical procedure is growing safer by the day.

Although the procedure has several complications, those affected by catastrophic liver damage don’t have a choice and should not be discouraged by these liver transplant complications. Surgical teams today perform operations carefully and every precaution is taken to ensure that the occurrence of these complications is avoided. Patients are also informed of the post liver transplant complications and are informed of other patient’s positive liver transplant stories to help them make informed choices.

Liver Transplant Surgery Explained – The Procedure in Detail

Once a donor liver has been identified for the liver transplant surgery, you will get a message from the transplant coordinator either by telephone or through the pager.

Most transplant units provide these pagers as these make it easy to contact the patient at all times, especially when arrangements for the liver transplant procedure should be immediately started.

liver transplant surgery procedure

Proper follow-up care is required even after the liver transplant surgery

Liver Transplant Surgery – Preparation and Procedure

Preparing for the Liver Transplant Surgery

Once you arrive at the hospital there will be a series of electrocardiograms, additional blood tests and chest X rays that will show the doctors the condition of your body before the surgery. Once the tests on the donor liver match your liver, you can meet the entire surgical team. This team will include the resident doctor (who will be performing the operation), the anesthesiologist and a group of nurses.

Abstain from drinking or eating anything before the procedure as this is mandatory when a surgery is performed on an empty stomach. The coordinator will give you instructions telling you how to go about the procedure. You can ask the coordinator for any other information in case you have any doubts regarding the procedure.

Liver Transplant Surgery Procedure

In case of a living donor liver transplant process, the initial surgery is performed on the living donor, where a part of his liver is taken out to be prepared for transplant. In case of deceased donor liver transplant, the donor liver is prepared and made ready to be placed into your body, once your liver has been removed.

Liver transplant procedures can take between 6 hours to 15 hours based on the complications that arise during surgery. The surgical team will insert a number of tubes into your body, which will help the body function during the course of the operation and these tubes will be taken out a few days after the procedure.

liver transplant surgery

Tracheal tubes are used during liver transplant surgery

Placement of Tubes

  • Tracheal Tube – To help you breathe, a tube that runs into your trachea (windpipe) through your mouth will be used. This tube will be in use during the liver transplant procedure and at least for a day after the procedure. There is a ventilator that is attached to the tube which will help the lungs expand and aid in breathing. This tube will be removed once you can breathe on your own. 
  • Nasogastric Tube – The N/G (nasogastric) tube extends from your nose to your stomach helping the surgical team drain any secretions from the stomach during the operation. It is removed after a few days once the bowels start functioning normally. 
  • Catheter – A catheter is used to help drain urine. Urine levels are constantly monitored in order to indicate how well the renal organs (like the kidneys) are functioning during and a few days after the procedure. The catheter is generally removed one or two days after the operation. 
  • Abdominal Tubes – Three more tubes are placed in the abdomen and these are used to drain the fluids and blood from the liver area. These tubes are generally taken out after a week. 
  • T Tube – If the surgeons feel the need to monitor your bile levels during and after the procedure, they may place another tube called the T-tube in the common bile duct. This drains out the bile into a small pouch outside the body. The levels of bile being drained out are measured here.

Once the tubes are set, the donor liver has been transplanted and the vessels to the new liver are connected, the surgeons wait to see if the liver turns pink. This shows that blood is flowing towards the liver, indicating that the procedure is a success.

People can opt for an endoscopic liver procedure these days. A Japanese survey showed that when the surgery was done endoscopicaly, complications were noted in only 6.6% of the entire 169 patients, whereas when the procedure was done laproscopicaly, problems arose with 12.3% of 471 patients.

Success rates for liver transplant surgery are steadily increasing, and although the life expectancy of an individual after the surgical procedure is around 80%. Post liver transplant care is met out to deal with post liver transplant complications and transplant rejections.

Living Donor Liver Transplant – Identifying the Right Liver

If you’re looking to get a living donor liver transplant done, you’ll need to sign up and wait for the doctors to search for the right organ from a liver transplant donor.

Living Donor Liver Transplant – The Need

Recent studies in the field of medicine indicate that the number of people who have lost their lives waiting for a new liver has increased substantially in the past few years. There has also been a consequential rise in the waiting time for acquiring a deceased donor liver. This is why people are opting for living donor liver transplants these days.

A living donor liver transplant has lesser risks when compared to deceased donor transplants, as the waiting time for a new liver is considerably reduced. There is no risk of complications that arise owing to delays as a result of mismatched blood group and tissue.

living donor liver transplant

A living donor liver transplant has significantly lesser risks when compared to the other type

Living Donor Liver Transplant Screening – Recipients

The evaluation procedure is similar for both deceased donor liver and living donor liver transplant. If the condition affecting the liver is of a progressive nature leading to liver failure, then choosing a living donor liver transplant will be effective. The problem is not limited only to a particular country.

Foreign nationals also have a particularly hard time in receiving a liver transplant in the United States, as there are only limited numbers of deceased donor livers. They will also face the problem of relocating from home for long periods of time, as they’ll have to stay abroad for close to two months during the post-op period. Living donor liver transplants are a more viable option even for foreigners seeking medical attention.

Living Donor Liver Transplant Screening – Donors

In the United States, the number of people opting for living donor liver transplants has gone up from 50 in 1997 to more than 830, in a random sample of 1000 patients.

Once you get an intimation regarding a living donor liver transplant, then the donors can start their process of evaluation with your registered coordinator.

The coordinator will give both the donor and you complete details about the procedure and will perform tests to see if the procedure can be done. Once preliminary tests like blood type match are successfully completed, the coordinator takes on the responsibility of evaluating the donor. The living donor requirements will be evaluated before the surgery is finalized.

This evaluation has to be extremely precise and it comprises of:

  • Evaluation of the health of the donor
  • Physiological and social screening
  • Assessment of the donor’s anatomy

The information about the donor, both personal and medical, is held safely and confidentiality laws apply to them as well. Every donor also has a donor advocate who helps the donor with the different concerns that he might have.

living donor liver transplant screening

The risk to the donor’s life in a living donor liver transplant is minimal

These may include safety, informed consent and ensuring that the procedure takes place without any coercion. Transplant teams are generally helpful and do not mind spending time clarifying the various concerns that the family of either the donor or the recipient may have.

Living Donor Liver Transplant – The Procedure

The donor has to undergo surgery first. A split-liver technique is used to remove a part of the donor’s liver which is then prepared for transplant into the recipient. Another surgical team removes the recipient’s diseased liver which is then replaced by a part of the donor’s liver.

Both livers regenerate according to their bodies in a couple of weeks. There are no long term complications for either part of the liver. In both cases the post operation and follow up procedures may take a couple of weeks and it is recommended that you take a month or two off work following the procedure to allow for post liver transplant care.

There are a few risks and liver transplant complications involved with this procedure. As is the case with any major surgery, there is a possibility of blood clot formation in either the recipient or the donor. Studies in the field indicate that donors have shown a slight percentage of risk. The risk to the donor’s life can be as little as 0.3% and as high as 0.5%.

Opting for a living donor liver transplant can be a good idea, given that the waiting period for a deceased donor liver transplant can be quite long and mentally and physically tiring. Consult your medical practitioner to learn more about the screening techniques.

 

Liver Transplant in India and Other Countries – An Analysis

Many people are opting for a liver transplant in India mainly because treatment costs in India are comparatively low. When it comes to opting for the procedure, you can choose both the country and the hospital where you’re planning to get your new liver, based on your preferences.

Liver Transplant in India and Other Countries

The procedure is almost the same in all the countries and the only difference is the cost of the procedure and the success rate that each country or hospital guarantees. Going by the success rate, you can get your liver transplant in India, USA or the UK, as these three nations are well known for the medical facilities that they provide.

Liver Transplant in India

Western medicine is fast developing in India, and the Apollo hospital in New Delhi has the best success rate for liver transplants in India. The success rate at this hospital is 85% for people who have completed three years post operation. These rates are higher than those recorded by the Mayo Clinic in the USA or even UK Health Care. This hospital also takes up living donor liver transplant procedures.

liver transplant in india

The success rate for a liver transplant in India is around 89.5% (Apollo Hospital)

The protocol is the same as that followed in the USA and the UK. Both the donor and the recipient are tested for a match, the recipient is then sent for more blood tests, electrocardiograms, cardiac evaluation and medical imaging. This gives the doctors a complete picture of the patient’s health.

Liver Transplant Cost in India

The cost for the procedure in India can range between $50,000 and $70,000, including a stay in the hospital till the patient is discharged. The charges may vary depending on the hospital, and these expenses are inclusive of pre operative and post operative care and the patient’s stay.

Liver Transplant in USA

In the states, almost all clinics offer liver transplant procedures. Although most hospitals in the USA have transplant units, only a few clinics offer options for living donor liver transplants and among these, the Mayo Clinic at Arizona offers the best success rate. It has clinics in three locations – Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

liver transplant in usa

The Mayo Clinic provides the best success rate for a liver transplant in USA

Liver Transplant Cost in USA

Hospitals in the US charge around $250000 for the actual procedure and the overall costs can range around $314,000 including pre operative and post operative care. The Mayo Clinic has the best success rate when dealing with complications that rise during or due to liver transplants.

Liver Transplant UK

In the UK, the procedure for a liver transplant is the same as that in the United States. Once you are assessed and deemed medically fit to go for a transplant, you will be put on a waiting list in case you’re looking for a deceased liver transplant. You can also consider a cadaver donor liver transplant.

In this case, the cadaver is a patient who suffers from brain damage, which is essentially irreversible. Once, the cadaver’s family agrees to donate his or her organ for transplant, the procedure is carried out. UK Health Care currently does not offer living donor liver transplants.

UK Health Care provides a variety of options where cost is concerned. A financial advisor will always be present to help you understand these situations better.

liver transplant in UK

You can avail the services of a financial advisor when you opt for a liver transplant UK

The most important thing to consider before proceeding with surgery in any country or hospital is the rate of success of the clinic or medical facility. If a patient’s health is in fairly good condition, the success rate as per the UK Health Care system is 90 percent. According to a recent survey conducted by the UK government, the chances of living after the procedure have risen as high as 80 percent.

As the liver transplant procedure in India, the USA and the UK is almost similar, the cost involved is the only differentiating factor that people look at when they try and make a decision. A liver transplant in India is the preferred option as the medical facilities are of high standards and the charges are affordable.

Pre Liver Transplant Surgery Preparation – Preparing for a Transplant

The hard part about a liver transplant is not the procedure itself, but the pre liver transplant preparation that you’ll need to take up. Depending on the hospital, you may be provided with a liver transplant patient guide that can help you when you’re preparing for the liver transplant procedure.

Pre Liver Transplant Surgery Preparation Basics 

There are different types of preparation involved and these can be categorized as:

  • Financial Preparation
  • Mental Preparation
  • General Preparation

Pre Liver Transplant Preparation – Financial Preparation

As soon as you are on the waiting list for a new liver after clearing the liver transplant requirements, the first thing to do is take care of your finances. This will be needed to fund the surgery.

The cost involved in the surgical procedure might vary, as hospitals in the US charge around $35000 for the assessment and $30000 for the actual procedure.

Hospitals in countries like India charge a minimum of $22000 to $30000 for the procedure, and this will be inclusive of your stay and additional food charges. Liver transplants in India are much cheaper as compared to the US.

Several transplant units give sound financial advice. While opting for medical facilities in the UK, you can employ a financial advisor to help you out before the liver transplant procedure.

Pre Liver Transplant Preparation – Mental Preparation

Apart from finances, you should be mentally ready to accept the new liver that’s being donated and you’ll also need to be ready for the recuperation time as this procedure can take a month or two.

Pre Liver Transplant Surgery Preparation

Pre Liver Transplant Tip – Reach Out To Your Friends for Emotional Help

Studies show that at least 30% of the people who have just been accepted by the transplant board back out at the last minute due to poor pre liver transplant preparation.

The waiting period can be very hard for the patient and his family members who try and give it their best. As waiting for the big moment can stress you out, here are some of the things you can do to help reduce your anxiety levels.

  • Have you meals as prescribed, exercise every day and talk to the coordinator for other special needs.
  • Live normally, performing your everyday chores, and keep yourself occupied with studies or work. This will help you divert your thoughts and cause less stress.
  • Talk to a friend, a spouse, a parent or a relative and share your feelings with them in order to emotionally get through the pre liver surgery phase.

Since the human body is complex, it is important for both the body and the mind to stay relaxed before you undergo major procedures like a liver transplant.

Take the support of your family and friends in order to get through this trying time in your life. An independent survey in the United States has shown that having a relaxed rest before the surgery can increase your success rate by about 10 – 15%.

Pre Liver Transplant Preparation – General Preparation

Be Available 24/7

You’ll get a call from your coordinator as soon as a donated liver becomes available. As there is no specific time for this, you are likely to get a call at any time possible. The transplant unit should be in a position to reach you whether you are at work, school or on vacation.

Pre Liver Transplant

Pre Liver Transplant Tip – Always Stay Reachable

A smart thing to do would be to purchase a telephone with an answering machine so that you can check your messages once you get back.

Almost all transplant units provide a pager so that they can reach you at all times. Additionally you should give the telephone numbers of all main family members, neighbors and friends to the transplant unit.

This way, you can be contacted by any means possible. As the donated organ will decay after a while, there is a time window given to a patient before it is donated to someone else.

When you get a call regarding the availability of a liver, ensure that you follow the instructions given by the transplant unit. It is better to have a suitcase handy with all the things that you might need after surgery. Also, the list of all the people who should be contacted should be handed over to someone close.

Arrange for Instant Transportation

You can hire a driver if the transplant unit is close to your place. If it is far away, the coordinator will help you with all the required transport arrangements.

It is better to have the route and mode of transportation planned in advance to avoid last minute stress and confusion. If a flight is required to get to the transplant unit, talk to your coordinator about it and figure a way out in order to avoid a last minute rush.

Once you get through the pre liver transplant phase without any worries, you’ll be in a good position to take up the liver transplant surgery.