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November 11,2019
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A complete Guide to Liver Transplant and its Procedure

Be it nutrient storage, enhancing metabolism, blood clotting, or gut immunity, few other organs perform such a diverse range of functions as carried out by the liver. Needless to say, proper liver health promotes overall health.

When the organ is unable to do its job well, it doesn’t bode well for the entire body. The onset of liver disease will progress across various stages from inflammation to liver cancer. If medications and dietary tweaks are unable to stop the progression then the physician may suggest liver transplant. Also called as hepatic transplant, this procedure is the last resort to save the patient’s life.

What is Liver Transplantation?

The liver transplant is a surgical procedure to treat liver failure by replacing it with a healthy liver. When liver function is impaired due to scarring or inflammation, the physician may suggest medications to reverse the process. But if the issue progresses to a stage where drugs no longer remain effective, it is termed as liver failure. One of the ways of overcoming this issue is by undergoing liver transplant surgery.

The liver transplant requires a healthy donor who is compatible with the recipient’s body type. There is a high possibility of blood relatives to be a compatible match for the patient.

What is the Role of the Liver in the Human Body?

The liver is one of the most important and the largest organ in the human body. It has many important functions such as removing toxins and drugs from the blood, absorbs the vitamins, helps in the digestion process, and also helps in clotting blood preventing the body from excessively bleeding.

What are the contraindications to liver transplantation?

Not everyone who has liver disease can get a liver transplant. It is a complex process and needs extra precaution. The patient must abstain from alcohol for 3 to 6 months before liver transplant surgery. Due to medical reasons, liver cancer patients, people suffering from HIV or AIDS, active infection, kidney or lung diseases, heart patients cannot undergo liver transplant surgery.

What is the procedure for a liver transplant?

A discussion on the liver transplant procedure can be divided into three sections – before transplant, during the transplant, and post-transplant.

  • Before the transplant : Before the transplant, it is essential to constantly visit the doctor for a regular checkup. Here are a few things to consider.
    • Find a Good Doctor : Every patient needs assurance that their treatment is done by a good and qualified doctor. It is important to go to a doctor who is experienced and has the required qualification to treat this medical condition.
    • Look for a Healthy Donor : It is not easy to find a donor in general. It increases the desperation to ask any donor who agrees to donate their liver. But it is very important to find a healthy donor with a healthy liver. This is not just for the recipient safety but also the safety of the donor.
    • Make sure the Donor’s Tissue is Compatible with the Recipient: Ensure that the tissue of the donor and the recipient are compatible. This helps the body to accept the foreign organ. If the tissues are not compatible, the body will refuse to accept it or any changes made during the surgery can backfire on the patient’s health.
  • During liver transplant: During the transplant, the team of surgeons and the anaesthetists play a very important role. While the team of surgeons work on the removal of the diseased liver, the anaesthetists have to make sure that the patient is given the proper amount of anaesthesia to conduct the surgery successfully. The patient must have a tube attached to the nose and the stomach so that the body is hydrated and gets the proper nutrition. A urinary catheter to drain urine, blood, or other fluids from in and around the liver.
  • Post liver transplant: Post liver transplant is a very crucial stage. It requires intensive care for proper recovery.  After the successful surgery, the patient must take good care as there is a high risk of catching an infection. The patient will be under a strict diet, as the liver needs time to heal and start functioning normally. Follow-ups are important after surgery. It checks the recovery of the patient and assesses problems if any. It is also motivating for the patient to know about the progress they have made on the road to recovery, and take better care of themselves. Every patient’s body responds differently post-surgery. Hence, it is important to consult a doctor before consuming any medication. Until and unless the treating physician prescribes a medicine it is best to avoid self-medication as it can affect the liver.

What is the complication of a Liver transplant?

The liver transplant is a significant procedure and has certain complications.  Depending patient to patient it could have an impact on the immune system. There is also a high risk of catching an infection. It is best to avoid places that can expose the patient to any contamination. A few common difficulties a patient may experience are bleeding, chest infection, and blood clots.

What is the Prognosis for a Liver Transplantation Surgery?

For a successful surgery, the patient must maintain good health. He should schedule regular doctor visits and carry out blood tests periodically to monitor vital signs of liver health. Abstinence from alcohol and cigarettes, and including exercise in daily routine can help speed up the recovery process.


Liver transplant comes across as an effective measure to save lives and keep the liver functioning properly. With this post, you get information on the basics of the procedure and ways to speed up recovery after the surgery is done.

You can also Join Our TPAF Facebook Group – The Pravin Agarwal Foundation (TPAF) Support group, created to form a network of families/caregivers of children who suffer from Liver Disease. We would request to join the platform to share experiences & concerns, provide emotional & social support and encourage one another in this journey.

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