The human liver is a very vital organ. It carries out more than 500 functions in the body, several of which are important to help the body function properly. These include filtering of the blood and removal of toxins, storage of vitamin and minerals, metabolization of drugs, and production of bile. When someone’s liver contracts a severe disease like end-stage Cirrhosis or Liver cancer, all these vital functions are affected.
If the liver fails to recover and reaches a critical stage of damage, a successful liver transplant might be the only option for the patient to improve their chance of survival.
What is Liver Transplant?
A liver transplant, also known as a hepatic transplant, is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a diseased liver in order to replace it with a healthy one. The healthy liver might come from a deceased or a living donor.
Undergoing a liver transplant poses a 5-10 percent risk to life. As per the statistics, around 90 percent of patients survive one-year post-surgery. The long-term success rate is 55-60 percent and most patients lead a normal and healthy life post-transplant but have to take lifelong medications and make some major lifestyle changes.
Liver Transplant Statistics in India
Every year, around 20-25 people per million of the world population require a liver transplant. In India, almost 2,00,000 people die of liver disease every year and around 50,000 – 60,000 require a liver transplant.
Globally, there are about 25,000 liver transplants being performed every year. But in India, doctors could only perform a dismal 500 transplants in 2009 and 750 in 2010, according to a review article published in Indian Journal of Transplantation 2011. The figure had risen to around 2,000 in 2014 but is still significantly low. The main reasons for the fewer number of transplants are the unavailability of donors and the high costs of the procedure.
Cost of Liver Transplant in India
Liver transplant is a major surgery that involves a highly trained medical staff and procedures that use high-end instruments, medicines, and medical products. Owing to these factors, the transplant procedure is generally pretty expensive. From finding a good healthcare provider, to surgery, a prolonged recovery period, and lifelong medications, each factor adds to the cost of the procedure.
Some more factors that may add to the cost of transplant are:
● Anti-rejection drugs and other medications
● Extensive lab tests
● In-hospital stay during procedure and recovery
● Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Still, the cost of liver transplantation in India is one-twentieth when compared to western countries.