A living-donor liver transplant is a life-saving surgery in which a deceased liver is replaced with a portion of the liver from a healthy person. In the United States, more than six thousand liver transplants are performed annually, and around seventeen hundred patients die each year waiting to receive a liver transplant. Potential liver donors are meticulously screened for their surgical, social, medical, and psychological fitness. Medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and underlying liver disease must be assessed to minimize the benefit-risk ratio of the organ transplant as much as possible.
During a living donor liver transplant, the larger right-side lobe is removed from a healthy individual and transplanted to adult donors, and the smaller left lateral lobe is removed and transplanted to children. After the surgery, the donor's remaining liver regrows to its normal size and capacity within a few months. The transplanted liver portion also restores normal liver function in the recipient. But your body will consider the new liver a stranger, and you'll have to take medications to boost your immune system. These medications can have certain side effects, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
How Is Living Donor Liver Transplantation Performed?
Living Donor Liver Transplantation is conducted by skilled surgical teams in operating rooms. An experienced surgeon removes a portion of the liver from the donor. This portion of the liver is then transplanted into the recipient in an operating room. Surgical teams use a laparoscope to perform these surgeries. Laparoscope is an imaging instrument that is used to see what is happening inside the body. This procedure is called keyhole liver transplant surgery. Since it is new, not all hospitals may offer it. The doctor provides the recipient and donor with enough liver to carry out their normal lives and maintain bodily functions. In a few months, both livers will regrow to their original size and start functioning normally.
Living Donor Liver Transplant Risk
Since a living donor liver transplant is a critical surgery, there are a few risks for both the recipient and the donor. The donor may experience these risks-
The recipient may experience these risks-
Who Can Be a Living Donor?
You can be a living liver donor if you're healthy and fit and have no medical complications. Your liver should also match with the recipient. The doctor will check your body size and blood type to know if you are an ideal candidate for liver donation. Adults can donate their liver to children regardless of size because a child's body keeps on growing. Here are a few other requirements you need to fulfill to become a living liver donor.
What Happens After Living Donor Liver Transplant
After a living donor liver transplant, you'll spend a few days in the intensive care unit under close observation. You'll be transferred to the recovery wing when your condition is stable. Various tubes will remain attached to your body, including a catheter in your bladder, tubes in your abdominal cavity and stomach, and IV lines in your neck or arm. After a few days, the tubes will be removed, and you'll be asked to move around. Once you feel better, your IV pain medication will be stopped, and you'll be given an oral prescription. After your discharge, you'll have to come for follow-up check-ups one month, one week, three months, two years, and one year.
Can Donating a Portion of Your Liver Shorten Your Life?
No, under normal conditions, your life doesn't shorten after donating a part of your liver as the liver regrows to its normal size in a few weeks. The surgery is moreover safe, but there can be a small risk of death or complications. The risk of death is 1 in 500 in living liver donors.