Liver Transplantation

Written by Amy Hall
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Liver transplantation can help people with chronic liver disease to lead healthy, normal lives. The problem is that the wait for a healthy liver can take a long time, making it all the more important for the patient to follow a healthy diet, regular exercise regime, and stress management program in the meantime. Liver disease can cause a host of secondary problems that are challenging to handle both emotionally and physically.

Hepatitis C is the main cause for liver transplantation in the United States. However, there are also other conditions that may warrant a liver transplant in a patient. Hepatitis B, alcohol induced cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, liver cancer, and Wilson’s disease are all health issues that may put the patient on the national waiting list for a liver transplant.

As far as success rates go, after one year the success rate is approximately 92 percent, and after five years, it is at 88 percent. A person who receives a healthy liver can go on to lead a normal life, though lifestyle changes will be necessary. People who have received a healthy liver should abstain from alcohol, certain painkillers, unprotected sex, and needles, as these are risk factors to developing liver disease again.

Liver Donations in the United States

Most liver donations take place when a person on the waiting list receives a liver from a cadaver. In some cases, a living donor who is close to the patient may donate part of his or her liver. In an auxiliary donation, part of a liver from a healthy adult, either living or from a cadaver, is taken and implanted into the patient. The diseased liver remains intact until the implanted liver begins to take over full function. At that time, the diseased portion of the liver will be removed. Patients waiting for a healthy liver need both physical and emotional support during this trying time. A psychologist may be assigned to the patient to help the patient deal with their stress and emotions while they wait for a liver donor.

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