In future would it be possible to have a plethora of liver donor and recipient matching sites like we currently have match-making sites for matrimony? Are you willing to be a liver donor? Did you know your liver will regenerate itself, so you can don
Would you give your liver like you would readily donate your old clothes, books or generously part with food? Certainly not! (Even if the best hepatologist in Mumbai would reassure you!) It’s not something you can buy and just discard or sell on a whim. But you could donate it to someone who needs it, if you are found to be a good match and you could even have your liver grow back, quite like a lizard’s tail! In fact, not many people are aware that liver is one organ that can generate itself. It can even return to its normal size within a short duration - after a part of it is surgically removed.
All you need is a healthy liver – no it’s not that easy. First and foremost, you need to be mentally prepared to have a segment of your liver carved out to enable another person live. Imagine how you can be a life-saver for a person who has suddenly experienced liver failure or is already battling end stage liver disease and is compelled to wait for a deceased donor. Add to this frequent updates with the liver specialist.
Recently in 2014, in the US, 15,000 people were on the waiting list for a liver transplant while there were only 330 living donors who had contributed among 7,200 liver transplant cases. If liver transplant is the last resort treatment for wide-ranging issues such as hepatitis and cancer, then why are people not forthcoming? Liver specialists claim that as a damaged liver is almost always associated with alcohol abuse, could be a mindbloc.
Maybe, knowing the importance of our largest internal organ, the liver will help change mindsets. The functioning of the liver is vital for life itself. The liver helps in:
- Purifying blood by removing toxins and bacteria from it
- Serving as a regulator of immune responses
- Churning out proteins which will help blood to clot
- Aiding the body to absorb fats, cholesterol and the like
- Channelising nutrients, medication and even hormones
- Guarding against infection
In a liver transplant, what typically happens is that a healthy liver from a donor, replaces the one that cannot function - the recipient is the one who urgently needs the liver in order to live. It may be the only option for advanced liver disease. Other factors which determine whether a liver transplant is needed:
- Severity of the condition
- Previous history of HIV and other such chronic infections
- Physical and mental well being
- Body size
- Blood type
Also, what makes you a liver donor and how will you be match with the recepient? For instance if you are suffering from cancer and it has already spread throughout the body or have heart problems, you may not be considered for the transplant.
A score is attributed, based on these factors. It’s known as the Model of End Stage Liver Disease (MOLD). If there are two recepients with the same scores, then the person who has been on the waiting list will be chosen for the transplant.
There is a different score for children below 12 years, known as the Pediatric End Stage Liver Disease.
The good news is that a liver can give life to two people – yes it can be donated to two persons. Usually, the right side of the liver is used in transplants for adults and the left side for children.
Now, let’s take a look at what it takes to be a donor:
- Creatinine levels – these indicate the state and functioning of your kidneys
- International normalized ratio- shows how good or bad your liver is at making those proteins which help the blood to clot
If you would like to be a donor, consult specialized hospitals which deal with transplants. Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre , located at Peddar Road, is one of the well-known ones in Mumbai.