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Reasons for Liver Transplant in Children
  • Upper Basement Sahyadri Multispeciality
    Hospital, Karve Road,Deccan Gymkhana, Pune-04
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Why would a child need a Liver Transplant?

by | Jun 10, 2020 | Q & A's Pediatric Transplant

Liver transplantation is a surgery performed to replace the malfunctioning liver of the recipient with the healthy liver of the donor. The donations may come from deceased or living organ donors. Most of the organ donors are cadaveric or deceased donors.

A liver transplant is considered as an option when the liver ceases to perform its function adequately. In early ages, survival for a longer span after the transplant was poor. Advancement in technology, equipment, and anti-rejection medicines has increased the survival rate post-surgery in children.

However, liver transplants in children are only recommended after the doctors have tried all other treatments to save the child’s liver. The most common disease in children who needs a liver transplant is biliary atresia. It is a childhood disease that develops in the bile ducts preventing bile from passing from the liver into the intestines.

Other disease that may cause liver failure includes:

  • Acute liver failure- It is a disease that occurs rapidly when the liver starts to lose its function. It is less common than chronic liver diseases.
  • Chronic liver failure- It is a long term liver disease that grows slowly compared to acute liver diseases. It is recurring and persistent in nature.
  • Chronic hepatitis- It is characterized as inflammation or infection of the liver mostly caused by hepatitis B and C viruses. It lasts for 6 months or more than that.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC): PSC is a disease that causes inflammation and scarring of the liver and gallbladder. It is generally seen in the bile ducts that allow the bile to drain from the gallbladder. It results in the narrowing of the bile ducts.
  • Alagille syndrome- It is a genetic cause of liver diseases in children. It can affect multiple organ systems of the body like the liver, heart, and kidneys, causing the bile ducts to narrow.
  • Hepatoblastoma- Hepatoblastoma mostly occurs during the first three years of a child’s life. It a cancerous tumor that develops through immature liver cells. Liver transplant is recommended as a treatment to remove the cancerous tumor from the body of infants and children
  • Alpha-1- antitrypsin deficiency- It is a hereditary disease and most frequent genetic reason for liver and lung failure in children. It can lead to hepatitis, scarring, or cirrhosis.
  • Tyrosinemia- Tyrosinemia or tyrosinaemia occurs when both the parents carry the genes. It is an inborn disease caused by an enzyme deficiency. When tyrosinemia is untreated, it results in severe liver disease and liver failure.
  • Familial cholestasis- Familial cholestasis also known as progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) is a disorder that leads to liver failure. The individuals with familial cholestasis develop a build-up of bile in the liver cells causing liver diseases and thereby leading to liver failure.
  • Wilson disease- In Wilson’s disease, copper accumulates in the liver and other parts of the body. It is a rare genetic disorder that causes liver failure.

Apart from these entire factors, the rarest cause of liver failure is liver cancer. It is when the malignant tumor starts to build in or on the liver. In this case, surgery remains the only option to remove the tumor.

Considering all these conditions and functionalities, it is necessary for a child to undergo a liver transplant to treat these diseases and conditions that have damaged the liver or caused it to work improperly.

Written By

Dr. Bipin Vibhute

Liver and Multi-Organ Transplant Surgeon,

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