Liver Transplant Surgery in India

Liver, the most voluminous internal organ in the body has various vital roles to play, the foremost being detoxifying the blood. Symptoms suggestive of liver failure include jaundice, weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting blood, passing of black stool etc. It is only in case of extensive or last stage liver damage that doctors in India resort to Liver Transplant.

Liver transplant is a process of eliminating the diseased or damaged liver and replacing it with an able-bodied, healthy whole liver or segment of a liver from a donor. The donation of fresh liver can be from a live donor who may be a relative or the new liver can be extracted from a deceased adult. In case a liver is available for transplanting the blood type and liver size of the donor is matched with a ranked list of recipients (according to the urgency) and the top recipient is provided with the healthy liver. In case the donor whose liver matches the recipient is deceased the transplant is done as quickly as possible.

The surgery is a long and complicated procedure lasting upto about 12 hours. In case of a deceased donor the procedure includes replacing the damaged kidney with the healthy kidney of the donor. Adults usually receive livers from deceased donors. However in case of children, the healthy liver from the deceased adult is cut into two parts. The smaller part of the liver is given to children and the larger part may be donated to other adult recipient. In case of live donors a portion of the liver is removed and transplanted into the recipient. Because of the natural regenerative ability of a healthy liver, the donors’ liver automatically re-grows to its original size after surgery. Even the transplanted segment in the recipient grows to its full size and becomes functional. However transplantation using live donors is a very rare process. The success rates are around 94%.

In India the cost of transplantation process is around 18 Lakhs. Apart from this, the price of investigation of recipient and donor is around 2 Lakhs. After successful surgery during the first year patient has to undergo extensive medication and blood investigation to ensure that the body doesn’t reject the transplant. This process could cost upto 10,000 to 15,000. The entire cost is 1/20th of the cost of the process in USA, UK, or other European countries.