Pediatric Liver Transplant Facts
Who is a candidate for a liver transplant?
Children who suffer from end-stage liver disease due to various causes may be considered for liver transplantation. The most common indication in children is biliary atresia.
How is it decided that my child needs a liver transplant?
Eligibility is determined by a comprehensive medical evaluation by the transplant team.
What does a pre transplant evaluation process consists of?
This consists of checking all the body systems with regards to optimal function and presence of unexpected disease. Your child’s immunization records will be reviewed. Following transplantation, some vaccines cannot be given and others may not be as effective.
A detailed nutritional assessment will also be performed. Several tests will be performed:
- Laboratory blood and urine tests.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) and a chest X-ray.
- CT scan of the liver and blood vessels
How long will the operation take?
A typical liver transplant can last from 8-12 hours. The surgery for the donor lasts approximately 5-6 hours.
What are the risks of transplant surgery?
There are risks with transplant surgery just as with any major surgery. Some immediate complications can include bleeding and blood clotting problems, respiratory problems and malfunction of the donor liver. Long term complications include rejection (when the child’s immune system does not accept the new liver) and infection. Fortunately, most of these complications are treatable.
What is the postoperative period like for the child who undergoes liver transplantation?
After your child’s surgery, he/she will be taken to transplant ICU where he/she will stay for a week. After your child is transferred out of ICU to the paediatric floor, the length of stay will depend on how quickly he/she recovers. Average length of hospital stay is about 3 weeks.
What medications will my child take at home after transplant?
Your child will take 2 major types of medications in addition to multivitamins and health supplements to prevent rejection. If your child misses a dose, you need to contact our team immediately.
Once my child leaves the hospital, what happens?
Initially your child has to come to the transplant clinic twice a week for laboratory work up and physical examination or as frequently advised by our team. As recovery progresses, these visits become less frequent.
Who will look after my child long term?
Your child will be looked after by the primary paediatrician who will be supported by our team.
What restrictions will my child have during her recovery?
For the first six weeks after surgery, your child should avoid strenuous exercises.
What lifestyle changes are associated with liver transplants?
Most patients can return to a normal or near-normal lifestyle six months after a successful liver transplant. Recipients should avoid exposure to people with infections. Maintaining a balanced diet, and staying on prescribed medications are vital to stay healthy. Children can attend school and participate in sports and other age-appropriate activities and can have a normal married life in the future with no fertility issues.
What is the survival rate for children with liver transplants?
Our centre performed the first successful paediatric liver transplant in India in 1998. Our survival rate is about 90%. Survival rates vary from centre to centre around the world. Our results are comparable to the most well established centres from across the world.