Liver transplantation is a surgery done to replace the damaged liver with a healthy one from another person. It is used for the treatment of several liver diseases in children. Various innovative surgical techniques have been found to overcome the shortage of size-matched donors, specifically in children less than five years of age. The patient’s survival after one year of liver transplantation has continued to improve after the initial graft. Children admitted to the top liver transplant hospitals in Mumbai have shown a high long-term survival rate.
Why is Liver Transplantation Needed in Children?
Multiple factors come to focus as to why a child might need a liver transplant. The most common ones are-
- Biliary Artesia- It is the most common liver disease in children that mainly occurs in a newborn.
- Liver cancer or other liver tumors.
- Liver failure is caused due to an autoimmune disease, unknown causes, or an overdose of medicine.
- Genetic and hereditary liver disease.
- Disorders or conditions present at birth.
- Viral hepatitis.
- Hemochromatosis i.e., a build-up of too much iron in the body, can damage the organs.
The top liver transplant hospitals in Mumbai recommend a liver transplant for those with severe liver infections who might die without a replacement.
Who is Eligible to Become Donors?
There are a few individuals who can donate their liver for the transplant-
- The healthy liver can be taken with due permission from a deceased organ donor.
- It can also come from a healthy living person i.e., a living donor.
- It can be a family member or someone who is not related to the child but has a matching blood type.
People who have donated a part of their liver can continue living a healthy life as the liver can regenerate lost or damaged tissue.
Risks Associated with Liver Transplant
After a liver transplant surgery, complications may occur:
- Rejection of the new liver by the patient’s body’s immune system
- Blocked blood vessels
- Blocked bile ducts
- New liver stopped working
Rejection is the most common reaction of the body’s immune system to a foreign object or tissue. For example, when a new liver is placed in a child’s body, its immune system considers it a threat and attacks it.
Symptoms of Rejection
Symptoms of rejection may vary. The most common symptoms according to the top liver transplant hospitals in Mumbai are-
- Dark urine
- Light-colored stools
- Swollen or sore belly
The doctor’s team for the patient can help you identify the symptoms of rejection and can guide you better as every child can experience different symptoms.
What occurs during Liver Transplant Surgery?
When you go to the hospital, the transplant team will be ready and will prepare the child for surgery. First, a few tests may need to be taken to ensure that the new liver matches the child. Then, the child will be taken to an operating room.
In the operating room, the child will be given anesthesia to sleep through the operation. The surgery will start with the surgeon making an incision in the belly and removing the diseased liver. Next, the new, healthy liver is inserted, and the surgeon connects the blood vessels and bile ducts of the new liver with the other organs. Finally, the incision is stitched closed. The child who gets a part of a new liver will regenerate enough tissues to have an accurately sized liver within a few weeks of the liver transplant.
Most liver transplant surgeries usually last between six and ten hours. Ensure that someone on the doctor’s transplant team keeps you informed about how the surgery is going.
Techniques Used for Liver Transplantation
A variety of surgical techniques are used by the top liver transplant hospitals in Mumbai for pediatric liver transplants such as:
- Whole Liver Transplant- In this surgery, the surgeon begins by operating on the donor, removing the portion of the liver for transplant. The diseased liver is then removed by the surgeons and replaced with the donated liver portion in the child’s body. After that, the surgeons will connect the blood vessels and bile ducts to the new liver.
- Split Adult Cadaveric Organ Grafting- In this technique, the left and right lobes can be used for transplant in two, unlike recipients, depending on the volume of the donor liver and the size of the recipients.
- Living Donor Liver Transplant- Generally, this technique involves grafting a left lateral liver graft to a young child and a right liver graft to a bigger child or young adult.
The two steps of liver transplantation are mainly organ retrieval and recipient implantation. The majority of liver transplants are done via orthotopic liver transplantation.
Liver transplant is the last resort approach for pediatric patients with severe liver diseases. Depending on the child’s condition, a liver transplant surgery can take up to six to twelve hours. Therefore, it is crucial to do a liver transplant when a child experiences liver failure or is at the end of liver disease.