Pediatric Liver Transplant

What is Pediatrics Liver Transplant?

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 Transplant

Children with these diseases or conditions may need a liver transplant:

  • Biliary atresia: a disease in which the bile ducts are obstructed, preventing bile from passing from the liver into the intestines. It’s the most common reason children need a liver transplant.
  • Alagille syndrome: a genetic disorder that often affects the liver (among other organs), causing the bile ducts to narrow or fail.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis: a disease in which the bile ducts narrow because of inflammation and scarring.
  • Hepatoblastoma: a very rare cancerous tumor that can spread to other parts of the body.
  • Acute liver failure: sudden loss of liver function that occurs when a large part of the liver is damaged, generally as the result of a virus or medication.

Some genetic disorders may also result in a liver transplant:

  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency: a hereditary disease that can cause hepatitis and liver failure.
  • Tyrosinemia: a genetic condition associated with severe liver disease in infants.
  • Wilson disease: a hereditary disorder in which copper accumulates in the liver and nervous system, causing severe liver and other organ disease, which can be cured by liver transplant.

Is a liver transplant in children complicated?

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.

What's Life after Liver Transplantation of the child?

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.