A pediatric liver transplant is a surgery in which the child’s sick liver is removed and replaced by a healthy liver from a donor. The transplant process is carried out when the doctors have tried every other treatment option and the child won’t survive without a transplant.
The liver donor can be an adult or a child who has pledged organ donation (or their family has agreed) after their death, called a Deceased Liver Donor.
Children and adults also receive a transplant from a Living Liver Donor. In this case, the donor is a willing living person who undergoes an operation in which either the left or right lobe of the liver is removed. The right lobe is bigger in size, hence better suited for adults whereas the left lobe is recommended for children. The donor can be your family member or a close friend who has a compatible blood type and approximately matches your liver size. After surgery, the donor’s liver will rapidly get back to its normal size. In the case of children, the donated liver grows as the child grows.
Children with severe liver issues who wouldn’t survive without a new liver are advised to get a liver transplant. Biliary atresia is the most typical liver condition in children who require transplants. This is a rare liver and bile duct condition that occurs in newborns.
Other conditions may include:
The liver disease that led to a transplant may have affected other organ systems and their functioning too. Other probable complications from the surgery may include
The child will have to undergo various tests and evaluations as part of the transplant evaluation process before they are placed on the National waiting list.
The Transplant team will conduct tests including:
After the evaluation process, the child will be added to a national transplant waiting list if they are approved as a transplant candidate. The top of the list is reserved for those who most urgently require a new liver. Your child may get a donor within a few days or weeks.
Living with a Pediatric Liver transplant is a process of an entire lifetime for the child. He/she would have to be on anti-rejection medicines so that the body’s immune system doesn’t attack the new liver. Other medicines must also be taken to avoid any side effects (such as infections) from anti-rejection medicines.
Apart from this, the child carries on a normal lifestyle example school, sports, activities, etc.