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Criteria For Live Donor Liver Transplants: What Do You Need To Know?

Sometimes, organ donation is the only treatment for long-term illnesses like leukaemia or kidney failure.

Over 10 lakh individuals are waiting for corneal transplants, 50,000 are waiting for heart transplants, and 20,000 need lung transplants in India, where the state of organ donation is deplorable. This is particularly regrettable given that an organ donor can, on average, save up to nine lives and provide 25 different organs to those in need. The transplant waiting lists in India are getting longer every day. By surgically replacing a patient's unhealthy organ with a healthy one, organ donation can prolong a patient's life by many years. Sometimes, organ donation is the only treatment for long-term illnesses like leukaemia or kidney failure.

Live donor liver transplants? Know its criteria by Dr Anil Prasad Bhatt, Director, Department of Nephrology & Kidney Transplant, Jaypee Hospital

How Does Organ Donation Help In Organ Failure?

A transplant offers a second chance at life to those who need it. Because it is possible to transplant vital organs like the kidney, heart, liver, and pancreas, patients no longer need to rely on expensive treatments for survival. For instance, a cornea transplant can restore vision to the patient. Unfortunately, most organ donations for transplants come from people who have passed away. However, our liver is unique. The liver can regenerate and expand from partial to full size. This implies that a living donor can offer to donate a portion of their healthy liver to someone who needs it. Within 6 to 8 weeks of the transplant, both parts of the donor's liver will re-grow and increase in size.

Different Types Of Organ Donation

There are two categories of organ donation:

Living donation: This is a condition when a living person donates an organ for transplantation. The donor can be family members, relatives, friends, neighbours, or in-laws.

Deceased donation: In this scenario, the patient must register in a hospital that does transplants. The patient is first put on a waitlist; when the organ from a suitable deceased donor becomes available, the patient is informed.

Eligibility Criteria

There's no age requirement; it can begin as early as six weeks. The state of your organ's health is the most critical parameter. All your organs and tissues, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, corneas, and pancreas, can be donated. Even living organ transplants are possible, particularly with the kidneys, since a person can survive in good condition with just one kidney.

India's Legal Position On Organ Donation

Under the THOA (Transplantation of Human Organs Act), 1994, organ donations are legal in India. But unfortunately, this also legalises 'brain death', the permanent termination of all brain functions.

  • In brain death, the victim cannot sustain life, but vital body functions can be maintained in an ICU. These patients are kept on artificial life support to keep their organs in good shape.
  • Brain death is distinct from a coma, a state of profound unconsciousness in which the brain can still function independently. Therefore, a person will not be deemed brain dead if their brain is still working.
  • Before an individual's organs can be harvested in India, a panel of four doctors must jointly proclaim them brain dead. The announcement of brain death is then made after a lengthy testing set.

Living Donor For Liver Health

Additional Director, Dr Punit Singla, Department of Liver Transplant & Surgical Gastroenterology, Jaypee Hospital (Noida), states that "you could be a living donor if your liver is in good health. For liver transplants, compatible blood groups and non-fatty livers are used. However, a blood group mismatch liver transplant can also be done with a few modifications. Your liver's size is determined by body statute and can be checked by liver-specific CT with special software. A live donor is accepted only if patient and donor live volumes are adequate. The exception to this rule is children below the age of 18 years due to growing age, legalities for donation, and psychological immaturity. However, adults can donate their livers to children, regardless of their liver size. In addition, patients as young as a few months can also undergo a successful living donor liver transplant."

How To Register For Organ Donation?

You can voluntarily donate your organs by signing a consent document, which will be used if you pass away. NOTTO (The National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization) website has a consent form you must fill out. The hospital that is contacted for organ removal can also access it. The legal custodian of the body must sign a consent document in the case of deceased donation. Organ donation organisations can also provide a donor card to a prospective donor. The card represents one's readiness to donate even if it is not legally binding.

Why Should You Donate?

People with any medical history can donate blood thanks to recent medical advancements. The decision is ultimately made after the doctors have examined the donor's health. Many people are in urgent need of life-sustaining organs. Given the number of people who pass away every day, organ donor shortages are a condition that can be prevented. Think about saving a life by giving someone else life, even in death.

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