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April 18,2019
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World Liver Day: Spreading Awareness on Liver Transplant for Children in India

The main aim to observe a health day is to free the world from a wide range of illnesses. April 19th is one such important day on which ‘World Liver Day’ is celebrated on the account of spreading awareness about conditions related to the liver, thus ensuring the acclaimed motto of 3Ls (Long Live Liver).

Liver, being the second largest organ of the human body, regulates the blood’s chemical levels, eliminates toxins, and secretes bile, which is a digestive fluid that helps to break down fat, preparing it for further digestion and absorption. All these metabolic activities performed by a single organ calls for a greater initiative to spread awareness of its well-being even more.

Importance of Awareness Program for Pediatric Liver Transplant

According the leading English Daily ‘The Hindustan Times’, a report of World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that liver disease constitutes the 10th major cause of deaths in India, majorly due to the unavailability of resources and facilities for liver transplant.

Specifically, more than 1000 children in India are in need of a liver transplant, yet less than 100 get access to one, thus clearly exposing the lack of proper resources and provisions.

So by celebrating the World Liver Day on April 19th we take a look at the challenges regarding the spread of awareness for liver transplant in children and the importance of maintaining liver health for holistic well-being and overall human health.

One such determined initiative to curve the challenges to liver transplant in children is currently being taken by TPAF (The Pravin Agarwal Foundation), a leading NGO helping pediatrics liver transplant come off age in India through its dedicated efforts to promote the motto of 3Ls (Long Live Liver) by delivering not only financial help for liver transplant patients in India, but also directly partnering with pediatric liver transplant centers across the country.

Going by the parameters of affordability, availability and accessibility to liver transplant in India, it is startling to know that despite having one of the lowest costs of liver transplant, India witnesses 2,59,749 deaths due to liver diseases a year. While affordability of liver transplant is perceived to be on the lower side, there is still much scope to look deeper into such gross generalizations.

Given the highly diverse economic profile of the population in India, it makes enormous good sense to assert that not all patients and their families have the necessary economic capabilities to afford a liver transplant. Availability of financial aid to sponsor liver transplant operative procedures continues to be a significant challenge. Yet another challenge is the accessibility to value based healthcare institutions that offer the right treatment and reliable fund raising platforms that can bridge the gaps between liver recipients and such healthcare institutions. Not only this, the challenges to liver transplant also assume diverse proportions across the demographic spectrum. This is where TPAF steps in with courage to meet all these challenges.

Challenges to Liver Health among Diverse Age Groups

1. Challenges to Liver Transplant in Adults

Liver transplant in adults is highly recommended for patients suffering from end stage liver failure. Given that the size of the human liver varies across different age groups, the availability of a donor liver of the corresponding size should not be a challenge. About three quarters of live liver donors are relatives of their recipient, usually a close connection like a brother or sister. However, convincing adults to volunteer for a liver transplant is far from easy. The opportunity costs of adults not coming forward to donate their liver are huge given that a single liver donor can save the lives of up to 75 people. Further, there is a significant time value attached to liver transplant. An average 18 people die every year because of delays in the availability of suitable liver donor.

2. Challenges to Liver Transplant in Children

Liver transplant in children assumes challenges of bigger proportions. Child-sized livers are in short supply and thus cannot depend on liver donations from the deceased. As such living-donor liver transplants are the best for children because it allows surgeons to make use of the smaller part of the donor’s liver. Given that delays in liver transplant can cost lives and the fact that living-donor liver transplants mostly have to depend on family members, there is a definite challenge in this case that needs to be addressed.

3. Challenges to Liver Transplant in New Born Babies

The need for liver transplant in newborn babies stems from the fact they are born with an excess of red blood cells. In the ensuing period of 90 days from birth, these red blood cells break down and give way to a rise in bilirubin and consequently the incidence of jaundice. As a first measure, such new born babies of the age of up to two weeks are placed under special lights. However if and when it fails, the only way left is liver transplant. In most cases of liver transplant in new born babies, the donors are usually adults that agree to donate a part of their liver. A significant challenge here is rejection of the newly implanted liver by the new born baby recipient. Rejection occurs because of the body is unable to recognize the new liver and its functionality and thus the immune system tries to attack it.

What is TPAF and How Does It Help Children Needing Liver Transplant?

Given the challenges to liver transplant stated above, it is a statement of the obvious that new born babies and children are the most vulnerable. Parents and family members of new born babies and children in need of liver transplant are often rendered clueless in the face of the enormous proportions of the challenges that they face. From networking with the right liver donor, liaison with doctors and liver transplant centers in India to raising financial resources to fund the operative procedure and further treatment, the list is long and baffling.

The Pravin Agarwal Foundation (TPAF) is a philanthropic platform floated by its Founder and Chairman, Sterlite Power Transmission Limited and Vice-Chairman, Sterlite Technologies Limited that is committed to making pediatric liver transplants more accessible in India. Having been established in the year 2017 with a humble beginning of supporting 15 children, today TPAF is a dedicated NGO helping liver transplant in children. Till date TPAF has supported 100 pediatric liver transplants in India and is working towards its goal of supporting 100 more children for this cause by the end of the year 2019.

The work being done by TPAF is along two lines:

First, TPAF provides financial help for liver transplant patients in India and enables crowdfund additional financial aid through platforms like Milaap.

Second, TPAF collaborates with healthcare enterprises like hospitals and pediatric liver transplant centers in India to rationalize surgery costs and make liver transplant for children more affordable. Partnering with more than 1000 crowdfunding donors and 11 partners on-board, TPAF is bringing a holistic change to the ecosystem for liver transplant in children.

General Health Tips on How to Keep Liver Healthy and Long

Even as NGOs like TPAF come forward in support of pediatric liver transplant, it make enormous good sense to pledge higher and better preventive and proactive liver care at our end, this World Liver Day. Parents of new born babies and children and people of all age groups are advised to pay attention to these following measures:

  • Ensure that every child gets immunized for Hepatitis A transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.
  • Ensure that every adult and child is safe from Hepatitis B when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hepatitis B virus.
  • Ensure that every adult and child is safe from Hepatitis C spreads through contaminated blood.
  • Feed hygienic and healthy food to new born babies and children.
  • Include light food like green and leafy vegetables, powdered whole grains and porridge.
  • Serve dinner to children by 7:00PM and slash the quantum of food.
  • Children can be given Livomyn and Liv-52 syrup occasionally for good liver health.

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. Join us now !

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