A pediatric liver transplant is an operation performed to replace a child’s diseased or malfunctioning liver with a healthy one from another person. The liver may come from a deceased organ donor or from a family member who is willing to donate a part of their liver and is a suitable candidate.
Children account for 10 % to 18 % of all liver transplants performed across the globe. In most of the cases, children receive their transplant before they turn 5 years of age. Most transplanted livers come from deceased organ donors. Organ donors are adults or children who have become critically ill or injured and have been declared brain dead. If the donor is an adult, they may have agreed to be an organ donor ahead of time. Parents or spouses can also agree to donate a relative’s organs.
Pediatric liver transplants usually need top-notch expertise and the skills of doctors who are thoroughly trained and experienced in pediatric critical care and transplantation. This is because children have tiny blood vessels in them which are difficult to attach. Moreover, unlike adults, children need specialized post-operative care as well.
Children who survive liver transplant will usually achieve a normal lifestyle despite the necessity for continuous monitoring of immunosuppressive drug levels. They attend normal school sports, activities etc.