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A Brief Introduction to Living Donor Liver Transplantation and Its Types

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In case of liver failure, transplanting the organ remains the only option. However, cadaver donations are few as opposed to the rising number of people going through liver failure.

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Death often concludes this battle between supply and demand of donor's liver. Living organ transplantation appears as a saviour in this scenario, offering a pleasant alternative to the issue at hand.

A portion of a matching donor’s healthy liver is removed and fixed into the body of the ailing patient in need of a transplant. Since the liver is capable of regeneration, it grows back to its normal size in the donor as well as the receiver with transplant rejection being the sole exception.

Living donor liver transplantation can be of many types as explained here.

Non-Direct Liver Transplants

If you choose to give your organ to a person you haven’t met before, the process falls under non-direct liver transplants. This kind of contribution is mostly anonymous and is done out of sheer desire to help someone.

The liver part donated under non-direct transplant mode is delivered to a patient on the national organ donor waiting list. The donor seldom meets the recipient, usually when both parties express a desire for the same.

Direct Liver Transplants

In most cases, living donors agree to give away a part of their liver to someone close to them. It could be their parents, children, siblings, spouse, in-laws, half-siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, co-workers, or friends.

Domino Transplant

This method of liver transplantation works on a network of patients with donated organs making rounds as per convenience.

For instance, let’s say you are young and your doctor caught early symptoms of a liver disease. The doctor declared that you would need a new organ since liver failure is years away but sure to occur. In such a case, you could get a cadaver organ and donate yours to an older patient with cirrhosis of the liver. Your liver may cause trouble for its recipient, but it won’t happen for years, thus awarding the other patient a healthier life.

Paired Donation

We’ve seen cases where a person in need of a liver has a willing donor, usually a friend or a relative, but the organ isn’t a good enough match to proceed with the operation. Paired donation solves this situation by finding another pair in a similar predicament and swapping the donors.

Doctors look for another set of donor and patient, where the donor matches your recipient, and you match his/her. The donors are switched, and transplant is performed.

Living Donors Could Save Many Patients

Nobody needs to be declared brain dead to procure a spare organ when a living donor is available. People on the liver transplant waitlist can save time as well as their health from further deterioration. The recipients who get a part of a healthy person’s liver have been found to exhibit quick recovery and improved outcomes in the long-term.

However, lack of awareness regarding the matter and the fear or risks in surgeries keep people from volunteering live organ donation.

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