A liver transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a diseased liver with a healthy liver (whole or part) from another person or donor. The surgery is prescribed for adults, children and even infants who are at least six months old.
The liver is the only internal body organ that regenerates; the transplanted section of a liver as well as the reduced liver of the living donor can grow to its normal size within weeks.
Transplant hepatologists are the medical specialists who are trained to manage patients with end-stage liver disease before and after liver transplantation
Who needs a liver transplant?
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and it performs at least 500 functions and makes more than a thousand enzymes and other proteins that are critical for good health. The liver also filters blood impurities and metabolizes food and other substances that enter the body. So, if your liver can no longer perform its functions, transplantation is necessary.
Here are some of the most common diseases that can lead to liver transplantation
- Chronic Viral Hepatitis, B, C, D
- Autoimmune Hepatitis – the body’s immune system malfunctions and destroys liver tissue
- Laennec’s, Cryptogenic and Biliary Cirrhosis
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) that result to scarring of the liver called nonalcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH). NASH is now becoming a leading cause of liver cirrhosis.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) – the progressive diseases that cause liver failure. In PSC, the bile ducts become progressively damaged by inflammation.
- Acute Liver Failure usually caused by a virus, ingesting a poisonous substance or misuse of acetaminophen, a common pain reliever.
- Hepatic Tumors
- Inherited metabolic and genetic disorders.
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Hepatic Trauma caused by a blunt force or other accidents
- Toxic Exposures to pesticides, asbestos and other hazardous materials / environment.
- Various Conditions such as:
- adult polycystic disease – the presence of sacs or cysts in the liver);
- amyloidosis – abnormal amyloid protein deposits in the liver,
- Alagille’s syndrome – liver has too few bile ducts and
- sarcoidosis – small lumps of cells in the liver.
Patients with lung or heart disease, osteomyelitis, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, cancer or other life-threatening conditions are not cleared for liver transplant.
Types of Liver transplant
A liver transplant may be a whole liver (from a dead donor) or just part of a liver. Health care facilities and medical training institutions classify liver transplant based on whether it is a whole or partial liver transplant and also whether the liver comes from a living or dead donor.
- Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT)
This is a whole liver transplant. The diseased liver is removed from the patient’s body and to be replaced by a healthy donor liver. The healthy liver should be transplanted to the patient within 12 to 18 hours after it’s removed from the donor. The whole-liver donors can be persons who have registered their wish to donate their body organs in case they died suddenly from an accident or become brain dead but with the rest of the body parts still functioning normally.
- Heterotopic liver transplantation (HLT)
This is a partial liver transplant. A part of a healthy living from a living or dead donor is attached to the patient’s diseased liver. In Heterotopic liver transplantation surgery, a part of the new liver is attached to a part of the patient’s diseased liver.
- Split type liver transplant
In this type of liver transplant, a whole liver from a recently-deceased donor is given to two recipients. This procedure is most suitable if the pair of recipients is a child and an adult. The adult would normally get the bigger right lobe and the child will get the smaller left lobe. However, there are ongoing studies to divide the liver so that each part will be suitable for transplant into two adult recipients.
- Auxiliary Transplantation and auxiliary partial orthotopic liver transplantation (APOLT) which are variations of heterotopic liver transplantation
Why people would like to have Liver transplant operations in Turkey?
Turkey’s medical infrastructure, which has improved a lot since the early 2000s and medical personnel expertise can successfully handle liver transplants at a much lower cost. In fact, Turkey is “doing almost twice as many live donor transplants as the whole United States.”
- Turkey has good surgeons/ and hospitals
The average waiting time for a liver transplant range from 135 to 270 days for adults and 73 days for children in the UK, USA and Canada. It can be longer because who can tell when a liver from a deceased donor will be available?
The long waiting time can be significantly reduced or avoided if there is a living donor. Years ago, living donors were hesitant to undergo the major surgery to remove part of their liver due to complications. Living donors should know that donor fatality rate now is at 0.05%.
There have been successful living-donor liver transplants in Turkey since 1990. There are about 30 liver transplant facilities in Turkey that perform the highest number of liver transplants per population worldwide at a 90% survival rate within a year after the surgery.
- It is more affordable in Turkey compared to most countries, especially Europe and US
Turkish hospitals enjoy the same success rate as American and other European medical facilities but at a much lower cost.
Average Liver Transplant costs in:
Turkey – $ 80,000
Germany – $175,000
US clinics – from $ 550,000