Know the Steps of the Liver Transplant Procedure

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Know the Steps of the Liver Transplant Procedure
Know the Steps of the Liver Transplant Procedure

Liver transplant is one of the treatments for liver or liver failure conditions. This procedure is a major operation and is not easy to perform. To perform a liver transplant procedure, there are several stages that need to be passed

The liver is an organ located at the top of the right abdominal cavity, precisely under the diaphragm and to the right of the stomach. This organ weighs about 1.3 kg in an adult and is known as the largest organ in the body.

Know the Steps of a Liver Transplant Procedure - Alodokter

There are various liver functions that are very important for the body, including:

  • Producing protein
  • Breaking nutrients from food into energy
  • Storing vitamins and minerals
  • Producing bile
  • Destroy old red blood cells
  • Removing toxins from the body

If the liver is disturbed which causes its various functions to not work normally, this will certainly have an impact on the overall condition of the body.

Steps of Liver Transplant Procedure

Liver transplant is generally done when other treatment methods are not effective for treating liver damage. Following are the steps in the liver transplant procedure:

Phase I: Determine the cause of liver damage

Liver transplant is generally done when the liver is damaged, so it is unable to carry out its functions properly. This condition is also known as liver failure.

Liver failure can be caused by various things, ranging from viral infections, side effects of drugs, alcoholism, to drug abuse. This condition can also be caused by a history of long-term he alth problems, such as:

  • Chronic hepatitis that progresses to cirrhosis
  • biliary atresia
  • Bile duct damage
  • Build-up of bile in the liver
  • Wilson's Disease
  • Hemochromatosis
  • liver cancer
  • Fat accumulation in the liver (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease)
  • cystic fibrosis (cystic fibrosis)

Phase II: Finding organ donors

It's not easy to get a liver donor, especially looking for a really suitable donor. This can take days to months. Generally, there are two types of liver transplant options, namely liver from living donors and deceased donors.

Live donor

This donor can come from a sibling, spouse, or friend who has undergone a medical and psychological evaluation prior to donating.

Some of the requirements that must be met by donors are as follows:

  • There is no element of coercion and of their own free will to donate
  • Excellent he alth condition
  • Blood type is the same as the donor recipient
  • Age between 18–60 years
  • Profile body size equal to or larger than the donor recipient

The procedure for this type of donor is to remove a portion of the donor's liver and place it on the recipient's body who has liver disease. It is hoped that the liver from the donor will grow to its normal size in a few weeks.

Dead donor

If the liver donor comes from someone who has died, then the liver should be selected from the donor who has permanently died of brain function, but the heart is still beating. This condition is also known as brain death.

Phase III: Perform liver transplant

Before a doctor decides a person can receive a liver transplant, several examinations and consultations are needed, such as:

  • Blood and urine test
  • USG to confirm liver condition, heart check, and other he alth checks including nutrition consultation.
  • Psychological evaluation to make sure one understands the risks of a liver transplant procedure.
  • Financial consulting.

Once the examination is done and a donor liver has been obtained, the liver transplant procedure can be started. Here are the steps:

  • Patients will be given anesthesia or anesthesia to sleep during the transplant process.
  • The doctor will make an incision in the abdomen and remove the damaged liver.
  • The doctor will place a new liver organ on the patient's body, then close the incision with stitches.

This operation is classified as a major operation that takes about 6–12 hours. During the operation until a few days later, the patient will use several special tubes to support body functions.

Phase IV: Be aware of the risk of complications

Just like other medical procedures, liver transplantation is also inseparable from the risk of complications that can arise. There are two most common risks of complications after liver transplantation, namely:


This happens because the immune system works to destroy foreign objects that enter the body. This condition can be experienced by about 64% of liver transplant patients, especially in the first 6 weeks.

Therefore, the doctor will give medicine to prevent the immune system from reacting with rejection after a liver transplant.

Vulnerable to infection

The administration of immune-suppressing drugs can increase the risk of infection. However, the risk of these infections will decrease over time.

Patients with liver transplant surgery may have to take drugs that suppress the immune system for the rest of their lives to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.

Unfortunately, these drugs have various side effects, including diarrhea, headaches, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and thinning of bones.

In addition, other risks after liver transplant surgery that can occur are bleeding, bile duct complications, blood clots to problems with memory or memory.

Stage V: Undergoing the recovery process

One of the factors that can determine the length of the patient's recovery process is how severe the patient's condition was before surgery. Generally, it takes about 6–12 months to completely heal.

Life expectancy after liver transplantation varies greatly, depending on individual conditions. In general, more than 70% of patients who undergo liver transplantation survive for at least 5 years after surgery.

Liver transplant is one of the procedures that can overcome liver failure, but it is also necessary to pay attention to some of the risks. Consult your doctor to find out more about the benefits and risks of a liver transplant procedure if you need to undergo it.

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