All You Need To Know About Pediatric Liver Transplant

Liver transplantation is a surgical procedure where the doctors remove the sick and damaged liver of the patient, and replaces it with a healthy donor liver. While mostly adults go through such a surgery, in certain severe cases even children have to undergo a liver transplant. To ensure that the child faces minimal risks, it is vital that guardians try to visit the best pediatric liver transplant hospital if their ward has to go through this surgery.

Doctors only recommend liver transplant for children if their liver does not perform adequately, or they won’t survive without a new one. It commonly prescribed as a chronic or acute liver failure treatment, after doctors have tried all the other available options to save the liver of the child.

The majority of organ donors tend to be adults and children who have agreed (or their guardians have agreed in case of children) to donate their organs subsequent to their death.  In the scenario that a child does not need a whole new liver, a liver person, such as a parent, can also donate a part of their liver. This procedure is referred to as a “living-related donor transplant” and can be carried out by any renowned and experienced liver transplant surgeon in India.  The person donating a part of their liver would additionally have a normal-sized liver again within a span of a couple of months, as the tissue of this organ grows new cells on their own.

What happens during the liver transplant surgery?

To make sure that a child undergoes the procedure with minimal risk of complications; their guardians must visit the best pediatric liver transplant hospital possible. The transplantation team would firstly take a few tests to find a good match for the child’s liver.  In case someone is interested in donating a piece of their liver to the child, then a living evaluation shall be done, or otherwise, the name of the patient shall be put into the organ waiting list.

After the perfect match for the child’s liver is found, they would be required to undergo the transplant surgery. During this procedure, the child firstly shall be given anesthesia to sleep through the operation. Subsequent to which, the surgeon would make an incision (cut) in the belly to remove the damaged liver. After successfully removing the sick liver, they shall replace it with the new liver (or a portion of it), as well as attach the bile ducts and blood vessels from the new liver to the other organs. As this whole procedure is completed, the incision shall be stitched closed. The child getting a part of a new liver in the transplant would have a normal-sized liver within a few weeks of the transplant.

The procedures carried out by an experienced liver transplant surgeon in India typically would last for 6 to 10 hours.  Typically, someone from the liver transplant team tends to keep the guardians informed about the condition of their child and the progress of the surgery during this time. 

What happens after the liver transplant surgery?

Subsequent to undergoing liver transplant surgery, the child would typically stay in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). The duration of their stay here would depend on their overall condition. They shall be cared for and closely watched by the transplant team here. Most children have to stay in the hospital for at least a couple of weeks after their liver transplant surgery. During this time, they and even their parents would be advised on how to care for the new liver.  Even after the child goes home, they have to visit the hospital from time to time to ensure that the new liver is functioning properly.

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