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Liver Transplant Medical Information

Getting a liver transplant can help save your life. However, before you go ahead and get the procedure done it is important that you study the subject thoroughly and make an informed decision, together with your doctor. Below are some important aspects of liver transplant, to help you get better educated on the subject.

Orthotopic & Heterotopic Liver Transplant

When it comes to liver transplant, two surgical approaches can be used: Orthotopic and Heterotopic. It is very important to discuss the process with your doctor, as the average person can’t just make their own decision without the proper medical expertise.

The Orthotopic Approach

The basic definition for the Orthotopic approach involves, replacing the recipient’s liver with the liver of the donor. The donor liver has about 12 – 18 hours to be transplanted, after it has been removed from the donor, preserved and then packed for transport.

The surgery will start by cutting off the recipient’s original liver from the main blood vessels that are holding it together in the abdomen. After the liver has been successfully removed, the healthy donor liver is then connected to the blood vessels to start the flow of blood again. During the procedure, a connection is made to the bile duct as well through a small tube, which is responsible for taking the bile made in the liver in to the intestines.

The Heterotopic Approach

In this procedure, the liver of the recipient is left in place and the donor liver is stitched on to an ectopic space. Depending on the condition of the liver and other factors, your doctor will guide with regards to which surgery is the best for you.

Liver Transplant – Donor Criteria

If you wish to get on the liver donor list, then it will be helpful if you understand what the basic donor criteria is. It is possible for any member of one’s family, a parent, child, spouse, sibling or any other volunteer to donate a liver. The criteria is as follows:

– The donor should be in good health.
– Donor blood type should match with that of the recipient and be compliant.
– Should not be motivated by financial gain.
– Should be between the ages of 18 and 60 years
– Should be of the same size or bigger than the recipient’s liver.
– In order to be a living donor, tests would be required to ensure that the donor is fit physically. MRIs and CTs in some cases would be ordered to check the image of the liver and this process could take anything between 2 – 3 weeks.


Live Donors, Partial Transplants

Patients who suffer from fulminant hepatic failure often have very few options to choose from. One of the main options is making sure that the native liver recovers in a timely fashion through medical management.

This procedure was practiced long ago and then it was dropped from normal procedure, but today, the option of auxiliary partial orthotopic liver transplantation is available again. In this procedure, they resect a part of the liver that is failing (native liver) and a partial liver from the donor is attached to it.

The donor liver is responsible to support the patient when they are recovering. It helps in the clearing of toxins and also helps in preventing brain damage. This liver helps the native liver recover in most cases. Immunosuppressant medication can gradually be stopped, and the donor liver will wither away with time in most patients.

This method of transplantation is ideal for patients who are young as their livers have regenerative capacity that is optimal. This method could be used for young adults as well.

Statistics, Recovery & Life Expectancy

Recovery Time

After the surgery, you will directly be sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), this would be about one or may be two days. A breathing tube will be inserted, so that you can breathe with required support. In most cases the tube is removed after 24 hours. Monitoring lines will be attached to the patient as they start becoming more stable. However, different individuals will take different amount of time to recuperate. In most cases, patients are hospitalized for about eight weeks after the transplant.


With so many advancements made in the field of medicines, there has indeed been a dramatic increase in life expectancy, for deceased donor liver grafts over the past few years.

National Deceased liver transplant survival statistics:

The rate for 6 month liver transplant survival nationally was 74.3% in 1991 and increased to 89.9% in 2009.

The rate for 3 year liver transplant survival nationally was 62.4% in 1991 and increased to 75% in 2009.

The rate for 5 year liver transplant survival nationally was 56.6% in 1991 and increased to 67.1% in 2004.

The rate for 10 year liver transplant survival nationally was

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51.3% in 1991 and stayed at 51.3% in 1999.

Life expectancy has indeed increased over the years due to so many advances in medical science. In 2009 more than 50,000 people received live donor livers through transplants.

It is very important that loved ones and patients themselves are well aware of all the information that is required to make an informed choice with regards to live transplant and the procedure that is used. Getting in touch with the most innovative and advanced hospitals and clinics is a must, so that you can exploit the many advantages of medical technology to lead a long and healthy life.

Speak with your doctor, understand the process thoroughly, weigh all your options and after that – make the decision. When it comes to your life, you have to be very thorough. So, go ahead and start finding out more as the sooner you make the right choice, your body can start recuperating to get your life back.