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Liver Transplantation

Overview
Liver is the largest solid organ in the body and fulfills many important functions, which are necessary for life. Some of its functions include:
  • Detoxification of toxins produced in the body as well as those consumed
  • Builds special proteins to prevent bleeding
  • Makes bile to break down fats from food
  • Stores and metabolizes sugar for energy
  • Metabolizes drugs consumed
  • Stores vitamins and minerals
  • Breaks down proteins in absorbed food
Liver transplantation is the replacement of a diseased liver with a healthy liver from another person (allograft). The most commonly used technique is orthotropic transplantation, in which the native liver is removed and replaced with the donor organ in the same anatomical location as the original liver. Liver transplantation is a viable treatment option for end-stage liver disease and acute liver failure. The surgical procedure is very demanding and ranges from 4 to 18 hours, depending on the outcome.
People who need liver transplant may suffer the following:
  • Acute liver failure
  • Chronic liver failure
Symptoms
Symptoms that a patient suffering from Cirrhosis may present include:
  • Ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Itching
  • Easy bruising
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle cramping
  • Swollen ankles
  • Dark urine
  • Fever and infections
  • Pain over the liver
  • Internal bleeding
  • Jaundice (yellow color of the skin or the white part of the eyes)
  • Spider veins (broken blood vessels on the face, arms & chest)
  • Change in appearance of bowel movements (pale stools, black stools or fatty stools)
However, not all patients are symptomatic and some of them may have no or minimal symptoms. Liver transplantation is a life-saving procedure for people with liver disorders. Liver cirrhosis, which was at one time considered a terminal disease, is now completely curable if treated at the right time.
Causes
When disease damages the liver, it does not function normally. Some of the causes of Liver damage include:
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis ( Fatty Liver )
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cryptogenic Cirrhosis
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Drug induced
In addition to liver failure, liver cancer may develop as a result of many of these diseases. There are also cases of sudden liver failure, with unknown causes, called acute or sub-acute fulminant liver failure.