Pre-requisites for liver transplant donors

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Liver transplant surgery is a boon for patients suffering from liver failure. In a living donor, liver transplant takes effect by removing a part of the donor’s liver and putting it into a recipient. There is a higher success rate in case of living donor liver transplant. Hence, it is a preferred mode of treatment in critical cases. Human liver has this wonderful ability to regenerate itself over a period of few days to weeks. This ability of liver is what has been leveraged by the medical science to bring the cure to the misery of those diagnosed with end-stage liver condition. Parents, children, husbands, wives, friends, co-workers–even total strangers–can be living-donor candidates. Does this mean anyone can donate liver? NO

Apart from the noble wish to help someone, there are some factors that are considered before doctors confirm a person can be a donor for liver transplant. These are presented as follows:

Who can donate their liver?

The ideal donor should

  1. Be acting out of his/her own free will

  2. Be 18-55 years of age

  3. In a good health with no major medical/mental illnesses

  4. A non-smoker for at least 2-3 months before surgery

  5. Able to understand and comply with instructions for pre & post surgery procedures

  6. Have a blood group compatible with the recipient’s blood group. Here is who can donate to whom:

  • Type A can donate to types A and AB.

  • Type B can donate to types B and AB.

  • Type AB can donate to type AB.

  • Type O can donate to types A, B, AB, and O.

  1. Possess tissue compatibility with the recipient. Though this is not always checked. It reviews the match of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) which is to avoid post-surgery rejection.

  2. Have a healthy liver which is tested through Hepatic angiogram and CT scan. The information from these tests is used by the surgeon to determine the anatomy of your liver and to decide which lobe is best for donation.

Who cannot donate their liver?

  1. Those who are forced into this.

  2. Pregnant women and lactating mothers

  3. Overweight individuals

  4. Anyone who is suffering from a health problems. Here’s a list of disorders that may rule out a potential donor:

  • Heart, renal, or liver problems or abnormalities.

  • History of deep vein thrombosis

  • History of bleeding problems.

  • Negative for Hepatitis B and C and for HIV.

  • History of diabetes.

  • Prior liver surgery.

  • Alcoholism or frequent and heavy alcohol intake.

  • History of cancer.

  • Psychiatric illness under treatment.

The health state of the person is verified through a series of medical tests like abdominal ultrasound, chest x-ray and electrocardiogram. Donors are also given a detailed confidential questionnaire about their family medical history, lifestyle and other information. Only when there is a clearance on all the parameters a person is allowed to be a liver transplant donor and save someone’s life!

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