A liver transplant is a life-saving procedure that involves replacing a damaged liver with a healthy one.
A new liver can be obtained from a recently deceased organ donor or a portion of the liver from a healthy living individual willing to donate a portion of his liver. A living donor is someone who donates their organs while still alive. A family member might be a live donor. It might also be someone who isn’t related to your child but shares the same blood type as them.
People who donate a portion of their liver can live a healthy life with the rest of their liver. The liver is the only organ in the body that may return to its former size and shape after being damaged.
The donor’s liver will quickly return to normal size after surgery in the case of a liver transplant. In a few weeks, the portion that your child receives as a new liver will likewise develop to its usual size.
What are the chances that my child may need a liver transplant?
When there are no other alternatives and you have major liver disease, your doctor may recommend a liver transplant. Biliary atresia is one of the most frequent liver diseases in children that necessitate a liver transplant. It is an uncommon liver and bile duct disorder that has been found in infants.
Other issues that may arise include:
- Hepatitis caused by a virus
- Hemochromatosis is a condition in which the body’s iron levels are abnormally high. An excessive amount of iron in the body can harm organs.
- Cancer of the liver and other liver tumours
- A rapid or acute liver failure can occur as a result of autoimmune disorders, unexplained reasons, or an overdose of drugs, such as acetaminophen.
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic condition that puts people at risk for liver damage.
- Other liver illnesses caused by hereditary or genetic factors
- Conditions such as Alagille syndrome or cholestatic disorders, for example, are present at birth.
What are the risks of a child receiving a liver transplant?
The following are some of the possible side effects of a liver transplant in a child:
- Bile duct blockage or bile leaking
- The blood vessels in the new liver are blocked.
- For a short while following surgery, the replacement liver did not function.
- The replacement liver is rejected by the body’s immune system.
The immune system, or disease-fighting system, of the body responds to a foreign substance or tissue by rejecting it. When your child’s body gets a new liver, the immune system perceives it as a threat and assaults it.
Your child will need to take anti-rejection medications provided by his doctor to help the new liver integrate into his body. Immunosuppressants are the term for these medications. The immune system’s reaction is weakened by these medications. These medications must be taken by your child for the rest of his or her life.
What is the Liver Transplant Evaluation Process?
Before your child can be put on the transplant waiting list, he or she must undergo a thorough assessment. Many tests will be performed by the transplant centre team, including:
- Evaluation on both a psychological and a social level. If your child is old enough, these tests will be performed on him or her, as well as your family.
- Blood Tests. These tests are performed to assist in the search for a suitable donor match and to determine your child’s priority on the waiting list. They may also boost your body’s chances of not rejecting the donated liver.
- Tests for diagnosing. Your child’s liver and overall health may be examined through tests. X-rays, ultrasounds, a liver biopsy, and dental checkups are examples of these testing.
All of your child’s test findings and information will be reviewed by the transplant centre team. Who is eligible for a liver transplant varies by transplant institution.
If your child has any of the following conditions, he or she will be unable to undergo a transplant:
- Is suffering from an untreatable current or chronic infection
- Has cancer that has spread throughout his body. Cancer that has spread from its primary site to one or more different parts of the body is known as metastatic cancer.
- Has a serious heart condition or other health issues?
- Apart from liver illness, he or she has a critical condition that would not improve with a transplant.