What is a living donor transplant?
When an organ or a part of an organ is removed from a living individual and placed in a person whose organ functionality has been compromised, this process is called a living donor transplant.
On the similar guidelines living liver transplant is a procedure when a liver or a part of the liver is transplanted from a healthy living individual to a person with the non-functional liver. Both the liver regenerates to their full dimensions gradually.
Like most of the transplants, it can be either:
- Living Donor Transplant
- Paired Organ Exchange – When you have a living donor available but the issue concerned is incompatibility, another similar pair is found and exchange is made.
- Deceased Donor Transplant- When a person dies due to any cause and the guardian decides to donate their organs. This also happens in brain death cases.
Let us look into the differences between living and decease donor liver transplants:
- For all transplants, the recipient needs to have a donor in place. In the case of living donor transplants, we have a candidate present as per convenience unlike deceased donor where a nationalized list of all recipients is prepared, and once there is a death or brain death the liver and other organs are available for transplant. The latter may or may not happen. According to research data collected from various facilities. Around 20 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant.
- Possibility of rejection – In the case of living donor transplants, it is minimal as the living donor is blood as well as an HLA match for the recipient, mostly a first-degree blood relative. The deceased donor is unrelated. Proper match detection is practicing here too, but the chances of rejection are much more than living donor.
How long does a liver transplant last?
According to data collected for 20 years after many liver transplant surgeries in an Indian setup, for every 100 people who receive a liver transplant for any reason, about 70 will live for five years and 30 will die within five years. People who receive a liver from a living donor often have better short-term survival rates than those who receive a deceased-donor liver. This also answers your question of life expectance.
- The health of organ in a donation – So much better in living donors, unlike deceased donors where there are cold preservation and travel time involved which affects liver functionality leading to complications.
- A financially too living donor is mostly planned therefore smooth and less expensive. Deceased is mostly unplanned. There are the surgical cost and hospital stay costs of otherwise healthy individuals over and above the transplant cost in case of a living donor transplant.
- Chances of Complications after surgery in the recipient is extremely low as compared to the deceased donor. However, it puts the donor prone to the complications that otherwise was healthy. These complications include:
- Blood clot (DVT)
- Infected wound
- Anxiety or depression
- The need for re-transplant in living donors is minimal to zero but a little higher in deceased donor transplants.
- Similarly, the outcomes too in living are way much better than a deceased donor. This includes the quality of life, the need for medication, and dietary practices.
Now you know that living liver donation has no impact on how long and healthy you will live. The only impact it creates is on your psyche and society. You live with a proud and gratifying feeling for the rest of life. And people look up to you as an idol who they can imitate one day. So step up and be the paradigm that you are thinking of being…
Dr. Sanjay Goja, Program Director and Clinical Lead – Liver Transplant, HPB Surgery, and Robotic Liver Surgery | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra & Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram