In 2018, there were a total of 17,553 donors enlisted. Among them, 10,722 were deceased, and the rest are living donors. In the same year, 155 million people over the age of 18 have registered their names as a liver donor in the U.S.
The reasons to donate a liver
A liver transplant is explored as an option when people have reached severe liver failure, and it cannot be treated with any other alternative medication or treatment. The need for pediatric liver transplant surgery can arise when a kid is suffering from severe liver damage and may lead to death if patients do not get a new liver. The failure of this organ can be an acute liver failure that can happen in a week or a chronic one that takes time across months and years.
The leading causes of liver failures are viral infections, cirrhosis, Hepatitis C, or cystic fibrosis. Biliary duct atresia, hemochromatosis, or primary biliary cirrhosis can also cause severe liver impairment. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and early-stage liver cancer, too, are some conditions that may call for a liver transplant.
Two types of liver transplant
Living donor transplants
This is when a healthy person donates a part of his/ her liver. It can be for a family member who needs a transplant. During the procedure, a part of the organ from the donor is removed and transplanted to the patient. The surgeon removes the diseased liver from the patient and replaces it with the new part. The living donor gets well after some days of the surgery. His/ her liver also grows back to its normal size, thanks to its ability to regenerate quickly.
Deceased donor transplants
This is the most common type of liver transplantation. The organ comes from a deceased person. In such cases, the surgeon removes the liver from the deceased donor’s body and replaces the injured or damaged liver with the deceased donor’s organ. However, sometimes the surgeons divide the liver into two parts if there is a requirement for only a part. This action happens when a child or a younger adult requires organ replacement which calls for a smaller sized portion. As a result, the doctor can split it into two parts for two patients.
The facts on living liver donation
There are some other vital facts that people should know about liver donation. These details will help the donors and recipients to understand the risks and upside of living liver donation.
Donors know their recipients –
The donors have to build a good relationship because they both have to go through a series of tests for compatibility reasons. If the compatibility check is not done, then it will be difficult for the patient to adjust to the new liver.
Living donor option is safe –
This is safe because the recipient doesn’t have to wait for a long time to find a dead donor for a successful liver transplant. The time saved in getting new liver quickly can effectively save a life. Also, the donor’s liver will grow back to normal after a period of proper healthcare.
The recovery time –
A living donor who gives a part of his/ her liver will have to wait a long time to get the growth of their organ to its previous size. However, there are no data that shows that the surgery has affected the life of the donor or that they see an increased likelihood of getting liver disease. It takes at least six weeks for both the donor’s and the recipient’s liver to grow back to full size.
One doesn’t have to be related to donating the liver–
If you are willing to give a part of your liver, or a deceased person’s liver is to be donated, then this point is interesting to note. The donor and recipient need not be related. It will only require a match of their liver types. There will be some tests like urine, blood, and imaging tests to confirm this match.
You can still be a mother –
After donating a part of your liver, you may think that there will be complications in the way of becoming a mother. However, it will certainly not be an issue. Men may have a few fertility issues, and women may have to wait at least a year after the surgery of liver donation to try for pregnancy.
Risks for both –
This is a significant surgery, so it’s not free of risks for both donor and recipient. The effects can be long to short term. But no data shows any kind of severe complication in the life of the donor.
You will have to stay at the hospital –
As a liver donor, you have to stay at least ten days in the hospital. The liver transplant team will take note of your health condition, and then after determining everything, you will secure a discharge from the hospital.
If you are a donor, you won’t have to pay anything for your tremendous service. You will be saving a life that needs just a part of an organ that will grow back eventually to its full size. Plus, there are many institutions like The Pravin Agarwal Foundation(TPAF) that provides total financial assistance for liver transplants. They can help secure grants for liver transplant patients. As a result, you don’t have to think twice before enrolling your name as a liver donor.