Categories: Coronavirus

Ruminations on World Liver Day (April 19) in the time of COVID-19

World Liver Day is observed on April 19 to create awareness about liver diseases. Across the world, liver diseases are on the rise owing to various factors including lifestyle-related ones. These are critical times and humanity is going through a tough phase. Let’s look at how people with liver conditions can keep themselves safe from COVID-19.

Are liver disease patients susceptible?

Yes, any chronic conditions such as liver disease increase a patient’s level of risk.

Does it mean that everyone with a liver condition is in the high-risk group?

Not all liver disease patients fall into the high-risk group. The ones who do are the following:

  • Those on immunosuppression for a liver transplant or for autoimmune hepatitis (AIH)
  • Those with liver cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • Those undergoing immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments
  • Those who have decompensated liver disease

What measures one should take if they fall in the high-risk group?

Those who fall in the high-risk category should follow ‘protective measures’ to keep themselves safe.

  • Stay at home at all times
  • Avoid any physical contact for a minimum of 12 weeks
  • Get all essentials delivered
  • At home, minimize all non-essential contact with people you live
  • Wash hands frequently using soap and water and insist that whoever comes home does the same
  • Avoid sharing the same towel
  • If possible, use a separate bathroom
  • If you share a toilet/bathroom wipe the surfaces clean after use
  • Ensure you’ve enough stock of medicines and essentials
  • Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor without fail

I’m waiting for a transplant. Will the current scenario affect the transplantation programme?

At present, the situation is under control in India. That means there is no shortage of Intensive Care Unit beds. However, your doctor will evaluate the situation before taking a decision. The medical team will assess your risk of contracting the disease. If they find that your risk of infection is higher, they may consider delaying it till the situation improves while looking at all the other aspects.

Remember, all patients with liver disease are at risk of adverse outcomes from the virus. So, even if you’re not extremely vulnerable, adhere to strict social distancing practice to keep yourself safe from COVID-19.

Dr. Sanjay Goja | Program Director and Clinical Lead – Liver Transplant, HPB Surgery and Robotic Liver Surgery | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, BommasandraNarayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram

Narayana Health

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