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Liver Transplant Criteria

Liver Transplant Criteria

A liver transplant surgery increases the survival rate of patients, who are diagnosed with severe, progressive diseases. The criteria are put forth, so as to reduce transplantation associated medical complications in both donor and recipient.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
The liver organ is a solid body positioned in the upper-right portion of the abdomen, underneath the diaphragm. This organ is responsible for producing and processing bile juice, proteins, fats, and other essential biomolecule of the body. Another primary role of liver is metabolizing and filtering harmful substances. Considering all these functions, patients diagnosed with irreversible liver diseases require a transplant.
The Candidates
According to medical findings, the liver can regenerate lost or damaged tissue naturally. In fact, it is the only internal organ that can self-repair and develop into a whole organ, provided that at least 25 percent of the original cells are retained. Despite this special feature, the liver is susceptible to several complications. Part of the reason is its position in the abdominal area and its role in metabolizing toxins. The prospective candidates for a liver transplant include those diagnosed with any of the following health conditions.
  • Liver cancer
  • Acute hepatic necrosis
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Portal hypertension
  • Hepatitis B with cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis C with cirrhosis
  • Polycystic liver disease
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Biliary atresia
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Alcoholic liver disease
The Criteria
Under certain circumstances, a transplant is essential to restore normal functioning of the body. The intervention of replacing a diseased liver (from a recipient) with a healthy liver (from a donor) is a remarkable advancement in medical field. During the surgery, about 40 to 60 percent of the diseased liver is removed. The donor need not be a blood relative of the receiver, but both should have the same blood type. As with any organ transplant protocol, certain criteria are laid down by qualified doctors, which include the following.
Age
The living donor should fall between the age group 18 to 60 years. Preferably, the body physique of the donor should be similar or bigger than the receiving person. This surgery is suggested for patients (even older than 70 years) without severe vascular conditions, and those who have a probability of living for more than 5 years. In fact, there is no upper age bar for qualifying as a transplant candidate. For recipients older than 50, blood studies and various laboratory tests are conducted to monitor his/her general health.
Alcoholism
Excessive consumption of alcohol for an extended period is the triggering factor for alcoholic liver disease (ALD). For patients diagnosed with the same, a transplant is the only feasible option to increase longevity. As liver donor rate is very low, contradictions are raised against people with alcohol abuse history stating that the transplanted organ will get damaged with future alcohol consumption. Comparative studies reveal that recipients with ALD and those with non-alcoholic liver disorder have similar survival rate.
HCC
Hepatocellular Carcinoma, also known as malignant hepatoma, refers to malignant tumor of the liver organ. Patients who are in the initial stages get prompt result with other treatment alternatives. But, orthotopic liver transplant surgery is approved as the best approach for this condition. The plus point with a transplant is that it helps in dealing with undiagnosed HCC (if any) and cirrhosis. Thus, a patient with hepatocellular carcinoma, after receiving a healthy liver, has lesser risk of future complications, which is not so with other HCC treatment strategies.
As far as the expenses are concerned, the average cost is about USD 150,000 - 200,000 (or more). In the United States, chronic hepatitis C viral that progresses to cirrhosis is a leading cause for the surgery. The objective behind laying down stringent criteria is to minimize complications, thereby, increasing the survival rate of both donor and recipients. The life expectancy varies for different candidates. After a successful transplant, the recovery time is about 2 months for the donor and 6-12 months for the recipient.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.