A liver transplant is a surgical procedure in which the liver is removed through surgery after failure or liver failure.

In this procedure, if the damaged part of the liver or the whole liver is damaged, it is removed and replaced by a healthy liver of the donor. Here you will know about what is a liver transplant, procedure, and complications –

What is liver transplant surgery?

  • Liver transplant is the only curative option available to a patient who develops cirrhosis of the liver due to any reason (chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, alcoholic cirrhosis, etc.). (Learn about the benefits of cod liver oil)
  • When a patient is diagnosed with cirrhosis it cannot be reversed with any non-surgical treatment.
  • From time to time there may be a worsening of the liver function of the patient. 
  • The resulting complications of cirrhosis (bloody vomiting, black stools, jaundice, altered sensorium, kidney dysfunction, abdominal bloating, etc.) are characterized as “decompensated cirrhosis”.
  • These patients require a liver transplant at the earliest and should be referred to a liver transplant center immediately.
  • Ideally, all patients suffering from cirrhosis should be followed up by a gastroenterologist/hepatologist.
  • Graft liver can be sourced from a deceased brain-dead donors or living-related donors from two sources called DDLT (declared donor liver transplant) and LDLT (living donor liver transplant) respectively. (Know more about – Fatty Liver Diet)
  • However, both DDLT and LDLT have around 90% success rate and both the procedures have their benefits and goals.
  • Also, the decision to go for DDLT and LDLT may differ for a particular patient.

What is the procedure for a liver transplant?

Before liver transplant 

  • All recipients and living donors undergo a thorough evaluation before the transplant process. 
  • This includes blood tests, imaging studies, cardiac and pulmonary fitness tests. (Learn about CT Scan)
  • Multidisciplinary consultation is obtained before approval for liver transplant. 
  • The whole process is explained by the doctor.
  • You need to sign a consent form before the transplant. Which allows the doctor to perform the surgery. 
  • Food is not allowed for at least 8 hours before the surgery. 
  • If you cannot rest before surgery, a sedative may be given.

After liver transplant 

  • The receipt surgery takes place between 12-16 hrs and the donor surgery takes place between 8-12 hrs. 
  • After the surgical procedure is complete, you will be taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and will be closely observed for several days.

Immediately after liver transplant surgery

  • You will most likely have a tube in your throat. 
  • This is so that you can breathe with the help of a machine (ventilator) until you can breathe on your own. 
  • The ventilator tube will be removed the next morning when all the parameters are found satisfactory.
  • For a few days all the parameters are monitored by the critical care doctors and staff. 
  • The recipient has to stay in the hospital for three weeks and the donor is discharged in a week.
  • Blood samples will be collected on a regular basis to check new liver function. 
  • Antibiotics will be used through IV channels to protect you from infection.
  • The area where the operation was performed should always be kept clean after you reach home. 
  • Any stitches or surgical sutures will be removed at the follow-up visit. 

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What are the complications associated with the liver transplant?

  • Infection
  • Blood clot
  • Donated liver failure
  • Seizure
  • Complications of the bile ducts such as narrowing or leaks
  • Rejection of the liver received by the body
  • Mental confusion


The liver is one of the largest internal organs of our body which is very important for performing many functions.

Apart from this, the procedure of liver transplant is the last treatment option, which is done in end-stage chronic liver disease due to the high number of complications. 

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For any other problem or question, advice should be taken after talking to the doctor.

FAQs – liver transplant

What causes liver weakness?

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty liver
  • Lifestyle factors like sitting etc.

What are the symptoms of liver damage?

  • Jaundice
  • Right side upward pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • Change in urine color

How is Liver Donor done?

  • A liver donor is a person who is willing to donate his or her liver.
  • There is a process of transplant in which a lot of tests are done, it is necessary to match the liver.
  • During the surgery, part of the liver is removed as needed by making an incision under the donor’s rib.

What is the difference between liver and kidney?

  • The liver is 1 while the kidney is 2 which is on the left and right sides.
  • The function of the kidney is to filter the food in the body.
  • At the same time, the function of the liver is to regulate the level of chemicals in the blood and expel it in the form of bile.

How much is Liver?

  • There is 1 liver in the human body.
  • Which is covered by the ribs in our body.
  • It cannot be felt.
  • Whereas the weight of the liver varies between 1500 grams to 2000 grams. 

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