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How Successful Are Liver Transplants?

written by: Jim Vassallo • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 7/29/2010

How successful are liver transplants? Liver transplants occur roughly 5,000 times per year in the United States but 17,000 people are on the waiting list.

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    Liver transplants occur almost every day of the week at hospitals across the country to help save the lives of patients of every age. Liver transplants are needed because patients have malfunctioning livers, which is an organ that people cannot live without, for various reasons. Patients require liver transplants because of liver failure, hepatitis, cirrhosis, biliary atresia and some other common causes. Roughly 17,000 people are on waiting lists across the United States for a liver transplant, with less than 6,000 actually being fulfilled each year.

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    Liver Transplant Success

    Over the past couple of years, liver transplants have become more and more successful for various reasons. Some of these reasons include better medical equipment, better medical procedures, better medicine, better ways to keep the liver fresh prior to transplant surgery and much more. So how successful are liver transplants? The answer is not as simple as giving a statistic or another random number.

    The success of the surgery depends on various factors, all of which involve the patient in one way or another. The first factor is infection. If an infection occurs after surgery the patient is at risk to lose the transplanted liver, become sick, and even die from the infection if not treated immediately. The second factor is rejection. Rejection is when the new liver is rejected by the rest of the body. The body views the new liver as foreign to the rest of the environment. The third factor is poor functionality of the new liver. If the new liver does not function 100 percent, or even 50 percent, then the patient will have trouble staying healthy.

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    ICU Stay

    So how successful are liver transplants? After a liver transplant, patients are required to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks for 24 hour medical coverage. The patients will need to stay in the ICU ward for the first week following surgery for the 24 hour medical coverage. The ICU will make sure the patient does not get an infection from the transplant, makes sure the liver is functioning properly, and make sure that the liver is not rejected by the body after the surgery.

    Once the patient is released from the hospital he or she must keep to a strict diet and exercise regularly to make sure they do not gain weight. The patient will also be put on medication and be required to take blood tests every couple of weeks to make sure the liver is still healthy and is taking to the body. After the transplant the patient must stay away from alcohol, salt, and any weight gain. Should the patient begin to gain weight at a rapid rate he or she might experience major health problems with the liver and will need to see a doctor immediately.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/liver-transplant/MY00349

    eMedicineHealth: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/liver_transplant/article_em.htm


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