Pediatric Liver Transplantation

Liver Transplantation

Surgery to remove a diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver is known as Liver Transplantation. It is a very old process. Thousands of people have had liver transplants and Living a normal life. 

Symptoms of Liver problems

To be tired easily and losing the appetite can be signs of liver problems. Liver transplants is the option to get rid of all kinds of liver problems. It can help adults and children. 

Pediatric Liver Transplantation

Liver transplantation is now one of the best treatments for fatal liver diseases in children. New drugs and ways of doing surgery have greatly improved patient survival rates. In the liver transplants for children, there are two main issues. 

  1. The cause of liver failure in the first place
  2. The severity of the disease process and the time how soon does the child needs a liver transplant.

Why do children need a liver transplant?

  • Biliary Artesia: This is a disease in which a child is born with no bile ducts. It is the most common reason for liver transplants in children
  • Problems in digesting and using food: ‘Inborn errors of metabolism’ including the following conditions:
  • a. Alpha-I-antitrypsin deficiency tyrosinemia and Wilson’s disease.
  • b. Lipid storage(Gaucher’s disease, Niemann-pick disease, Wolman’s disease, cholesterol ester storage disease)
  • c. Carbohydrate storage diseases (galactosemia and glycogen storage diseases)
  • Liver Cancers: Some liver cancers are found only in children
  • Sudden liver failure: This is a sudden liver failure that can cause death. It can have many causes. Mostly it comes from too much paracetamol or other drugs. In this kind of liver failure, a liver transplant can cure the problem if done early.

Another reason for needing liver transplantation is certain liver cancers, benign liver tumors, and hereditary diseases.

The common causes of certain viral illnesses and reactions to some medicines like excess do of pain killers and even certain herbal/ traditional medicines. A liver transplant undertaken at the right time can save a life.

  • Reduced size liver graft: a piece of a liver is taken from a brain-dead person (cadaver donor)
  • Living donor transplant: A piece of a liver from an adult living donor and is used as a transplant for a child. In the last 10 years, around 1000 of these transplants have been done throughout the world. These transplantations have been just as successful as other transplants. There are some risks of adult donation for transplant to a child. These risks seem to be much smaller than the risks of a living donor transplant to an adult.

Technical problems while transplant on a child?

It is a little more difficult because the blood vessels are very small. Also, the care after surgery must be done in ICUs that can handle such small children. 

Do children get the same anti-rejection drugs as adults?

In general, children get the same type of drugs that adults get. However, children may have different side effects. Therefore, only doctors who specialize in this field should handle the follow-up of children after transplants. 

For more information, you can contact Dr. Swapnil Sharma (Liver Transplant & Hepatobiliary Surgeon). He is known as the best Pediatric Hepatologist in Mumbai.

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