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The largest internal organ in the body, liver, forms the basis of life. Though mild liver infections and diseases can be cured, on progression to an advanced level, patients are usually prescribed a liver transplant surgery.
It is very crucial to detect liver infections at an early stage and get it treated. According to Dr. Vivek Vij, one of the best liver transplant surgeons in India, there are some common symptoms of liver damage:
What are the early Symptoms of Liver Diseases?
- Jaundice: This condition is associated with yellowing of skin and sclera (the white part of eye)
- Prolonged Mental/ Physical Exhaustion: Feeling tired and low in energy for the most part of the day without any specific reason is a clear indication of a liver problem.
- Nausea: Frequent stomach sickness together with the urge to vomit, is a red sign for liver disease.
- Weight Loss: A person suffering from drastic weight loss is also an indicator of liver infections.
- Change in Color of Excreta: Black stools and dark urine also point at liver related ailments.
- Swollen Feet & Ankles: The unexplained swelling of feet and ankles is yet another major sign liver disease.
Liver diseases (if not treated on time) can lead to End-Stage Liver Diseases – which means the liver has lost almost 80-90% of its functionality. If you are diagnosed with an End-Stage Liver Disease, doctors suggest a liver transplant after proper evaluation of the patient’s condition.
What are the factors considered For Liver Transplant?
Below are the factors liver specialists take into consideration before giving a ‘GO AHEAD’ for liver transplant:
1. The severity of Liver Damage:
Surgeons analyze the patient’s current state of illness and make a note of its severity. Based on the proportion of damage, patients are given a MELD score to predict the 90-day survival rate.
2. Other Medical Conditions:
The patient is tested for any other prevailing medical conditions, particularly, tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and heart problems, that can interfere with a liver transplant.
3. Alcohol or drug abuse:
Alcohol and drug history of the patient is one of the most important factors considered while evaluation. If the patient lives an unhealthy lifestyle and actively consumes alcohol, cigarette or any other type of drugs, he/she will be strictly asked to follow a healthy lifestyle for a particular time and only after the given period, the patient is re-considered and re-evaluated for a liver transplant.
4. Mental Strength:
The patient is also diagnosed with any kind of mental sickness or depression.
5. Support from Family & Friends:
One of the most important factors- Support from one’s family and friends – is also given priority while making a decision about liver transplant.
After a patient meets the eligibility criteria for the liver transplant as set by the team of doctors and surgeons, he/she is listed on the national waiting list. (This is a list of patients waiting for a desired donor).
Waiting List for Liver Transplant (MELD)
Every patient is given a score on the basis of Model of End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) and Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (PELD) (in case of children). Both MELD and PELD are based on blood tests reports that take into account the proper functioning of liver’s ability to synthesize blood-clotting proteins. The patient with a higher score is given higher priority for the liver transplant. Regular blood tests are carried out to update the patient’s MELD Score and his/her subsequent position on the national waiting list.