Liver Transplant abroad, in countries like India, Mexico and Jordan, is a much cost effective option for patients who find it difficult to afford one in their home country, as well as a respite to those who do not want to be added to long waiting lists or patients who do not find advanced treatment facilities in their home countries. Liver transplant, also known as hepatic transplantation, is the replacement of a diseased liver with a healthy liver allograft. A liver transplant surgery is advised when:
- The doctor finds chronic, irreversible liver dysfunction
- The recipient does not have other conditions that will preclude a successful transplant
- Liver Cancer
- Benign Liver Tumours
- Hereditary Diseases
Liver Transplant are advised for numerous reasons:
- In adults, the most common reason is cirrhosis, caused by many different types of liver injuries which destroy healthy liver cells and replace them with scarred tissue. Viruses such as hepatitis B and C, alcohol, buildup of fat in the liver and hereditary liver diseases are among the main causes of cirrhosis.
- A liver transplant in children is most commonly required due to a condition known as biliary atresia. Bile ducts (tubes that carry bile out of the liver) are either missing or damaged in this disease. An obstructed bile causes cirrhosis. Bile helps digest food.
As this is an organ transplant, this surgery is much more complicated than other forms. Right from finding a donor to recovering enough to ensure that the organ has been accepted by the body, this is one of the most difficult surgeries to undertake. Also, in terms of cost, a liver transplant may given patients nightmares. Cost of a liver transplant surgery in the US can vary between $250,000 – $314,000. But this is greatly reduced if one opts for a liver transplant abroad. Many people are now opting for liver transplant surgeries in India. State of the art medical facilities are provided and the treatments are much affordable.
On this page, we will look at liver transplant more closely, while also throwing some light on the procedure and recovery period. Also, we will discuss the liver transplant surgery options offered in India, which has grown into one of the most advanced centers in the world for organ transplants, particularly liver transplant surgery.
What are the Signs of Liver Dysfunction and Subsequent Liver Transplant?
Different reasons show different symptoms, but there are some signs of liver dysfunction which require immediate attention:
- Feeling of being weak, tired or exhausted all the time.
- Rapid loss of appetite.
- Constant feeling of being sick in the stomach.
- Alarming weight loss.
- Bruising or bleeding easily. Nose bleeds require immediate attention.
- Bloating due to fluid buildup in the abdomen.
- Declining mental functions.
Situations Under which You Cannot Get a Liver Transplant
Not everyone can get a liver transplant surgery. Below are some reasons why your doctor might advise you against an organ transplant:
- Cancer in another part of your body
- Serious heart, lung or nerve disease
- Active alcohol or illegal drug abuse
- An active, severe infection
Liver Transplant Surgery Procedure
There are three types of liver transplant surgery procedures – Orthotopic Transplantation, Heterotopic Transplantation surgery and Reduced-size Liver Transplantation.
Orthotopic Transplantation – is the replacement of the complete diseased liver with a healthy organ. When this type of a transplant is performed, a segment of the inferior vena cava attached to the liver is taken from the donor as well. The same parts are removed from the recipient and replaced by connecting the inferior vena cava, the hepatic artery, the portal vein and the bile ducts.
Heterotopic Transplantation – surgery involves the addition of a healthy donor liver at another site, while the diseased liver is left intact. This liver transplant surgery procedure is performed when the doctor is of the opinion that the diseased liver might recover. The healthy liver is attached very near to the original liver. If the liver recovers, the other organ shrivels away. If not, then the original one shrivels and the donor liver performs the body functions.
Reduced-size Liver Transplantation – is most often performed on children and involves the transplanting a part of the healthy donor liver into a patient. This procedure is performed when 15-20% of the original liver is intact. This way, one donor liver can be used for two successful transplants.
Liver Transplant Recovery
Because it is a major surgery, the liver transplant recovery period is longer (4-10 weeks), as is the hospital stay. Post the surgery, you will have to take a number of precautions, right from religiously going for follow-ups to taking medication all your life. Due to the nature of the surgery, a liver transplant might require you to be on medication for as long as you live.
Right after the surgery, the patient is put in the Intensive Care Unit or the ICU, even if there are no visible complication to ensure that everything is normal. During the days in the ICU, the body functions, specifically the functioning of the liver, are monitored to make sure there is no dysfunctioning and that the body is working fine with the new organ. Once the patient is stable, he is moved to the general ward where his stay might vary between 1-2 weeks. Discharge is only allowed once the doctor is sure that the body has adjusted with the new liver and the transplant is completely successful.
Follow-ups are the most important and essential part of the liver transplant recovery process. And these should be taken very seriously. A schedule is designed for the patient depending upon a number of factors, and it is of the utmost importance to follow it. Periodic blood test and other check-ups will help the surgeon ensure that everything is on track. Missing a follow ups appointment might end in oversee of a condition which required immediate attention.
After a liver transplant, patients are prescribed numerous medicines. Some of these might be for a definite time, but there are some which might be lifelong. Drugs called immunosuppressants help keep the immune system from attacking the new liver. Other drugs help reduce the risk of other complications post the organ transplant. It is essential to keep these medicines going and take them as and when prescribed.
Liver Transplant Surgery Abroad
Organ transplant surgeries are one of the most expensive and time consuming surgeries. Everything from finding a donor and performing the surgery to the prolonged recovery period and lifelong medication, each factor adds to the cost, making liver transplant difficult to afford for some people. This is where medical tourism centers come in. Offering advanced medical facilities and treatments by highly qualified and experienced doctors, these centers provide safe and quick transplant surgeries at affordable rates.
India, Mexico and Jordan have lately emerged as one of the most advanced centers for liver transplant surgeries. The medical facilities are much advanced and the surgeons are well qualified and experienced . When opting for a liver transplant surgery abroad, patients are advised a living donor transplant instead of a cadaveric liver transplant, as the former is more practical for foreigns traveling overseas.
Living Donor Transplant vs. Cadaveric Liver Transplant
Living donor liver transplant has emerged in recent decades as a critical surgical option for patients with end stage liver diseases requiring immediate liver transplants. Unlike in cadaveric transplants, wherein the donor is not alive, a living donor transplant requires a donor from the patient’s immediate family. Due to the growing number of patients requiring liver transplants, and limited number of cadaveric donors, living donor transplants are always more practical. Living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) comes as a relief to patients who require immediate transplants and cannot afford to wait for long; and the widespread shortage of cadaveric livers for patients awaiting transplants is not a secret.
LDLT is made possible due to the human liver’s remarkable regenerative capacities. The donor donates a portion of their healthy liver to the patient, and this portion might just be enough to sustain the liver’s normal functions.
Patients opting for a liver transplant abroad are always required to be accompanied by a healthy donor for a living donor liver transplant as cadaveric transplants are not practical for foreign nationals. The waiting list can be really long, in which case having a ready donor is always the best option.
Liver Transplant in India
Liver transplants in India cost only a fraction of what they do in the US. Despite the fact that the country offers the most advanced facilities and treatment options, the surgery costs are greatly reduced and the procedure costs anywhere between US $40, 000 – $60, 000. Also, there is virtually no waiting time. Leading surgeons perform liver transplants at the world renowned hospitals which are well equipped and technologically advanced. The doctors are highly qualified and much experienced, as is the staff. Also, when it comes to liver transplants, India has many successes to its credit, including liver transplant surgery in India for the youngest child and the first combined liver-kidney transplant in India.
For foreigners, only living donor liver transplants are facilitated, which requires them to bring a healthy, willing donor (a family member) with them when they come for a transplant. Cadaveric transplants are not practical for foreign nationals and also, the success rate for the former is much more.
Liver Transplant Surgery in Mexico
Mexico offers safe and reliable medical facilities for liver transplant surgeries where foreigners can get a transplant at very affordable rates. The hospitals are well equipped and the doctors are experienced and well qualified. One of the biggest advantages of getting a liver transplant surgery in Mexico, in addition to the reduced costs, is the fact that it is a closer to home option for patients from the US and Canada.
Liver Transplant Surgery Jordan
Jordan is another nation which offers affordable liver transplant surgery. Coupled with reduced cost are treatment via advanced medical technologies and experienced doctors. As in India and Mexico, living donor transplants are facilitated in Jordan over cadaveric transplants as the former are more practical for foreign nationals.
There are some things to keep in mind before you opt for a liver transplant surgery abroad. Most important ones are:
- Someone must recommend you for a liver transplant in your own country.
- You must be accompanied by a family member of the correct blood group in the age of 18-50 years, who is willing to donate a part of their liver.
Most patients in the USA find it difficult to incur the costs of a liver transplant surgery coupled with the long hospital stay and medicine expenses if their insurance does not cover the procedure. This is greatly taken care of when one opts for a liver transplant abroad. As the surgery procedure costs less, you can choose to stay in the hospital for as long you think required. It is always better to be under constant medical supervision till the pain and discomfort have completely gone away.