Medical Video: Liver Transplant | Cincinnati Children's
When a doctor tells you that you need a liver transplant, this indicates that your heart is failing to perform important functions. The liver is responsible for cleansing the blood of harmful poisons, helping digestion of food, and storing energy-rich sugars for use at other times. When one of these functions is interrupted, this can be life threatening. This is why liver transplants can save your life. Before getting a liver transplant, you must know the type of liver transplant.
With all types of liver transplants, there must be a complete match between you and the donor. This means the donor must match your blood type, liver tissue and heart size with you. There are four types of liver transplants that might be offered to someone:
- Orthotopic transplant (liver transplant from a donor who just died)
- Live donor transplant
- Type of split liver transplant
- Auxiliary liver transplant
Orthotopic transplantation is the most common type of liver transplant. This is a transplant that involves the whole heart taken from a donor who has just died. Usually from donors who have agreed to donate their organs before death or when the donor family has agreed to donate.
During surgery, the doctor will make an incision in your stomach to lift the failed heart. The donor's liver will then be inserted into the place and connected to the blood vessels and bile ducts. The incision is then covered with stitches or surgical staples.
The drainage tube can be used to dry out any extra liquid. You will be monitored at the hospital for at least a few days after the surgery.
Live donor transplant
Living donor transplant means donors are people who are still alive. Donors perform the first operation where the surgeon lifts either the left or right (lobe) from their heart.
Right lobe transplantation is usually recommended for adults while the left lobe is used in children. This is because the right lobe is bigger and more suitable for adults, while the left lobe is smaller and more suitable for children.
The receiver is then opened and the affected heart is lifted. Parts of the liver taken from replaced donors make connections with blood vessels and bile ducts such as in orthotopic transplants.
After the transplant, the transplanted lobe will quickly regenerate itself. Even the donor part of the liver that is removed will grow back. In the recipient of the new lobe it usually grows to 85% of the original liver size within a week.
Type liver transplant split
Split donations involve liver transplants from individuals who have just died to two recipients. This is possible if the next recipient is an adult and a child. Donated hearts will be divided into left and right lobes. Adults usually receive a larger right lobe and the child will receive a smaller left lobe.
Like a living donor transplant, the liver transplant section grows back to its original size by regeneration. This method benefits two people at a time.
Auxiliary liver transplant
Auxiliary liver transplantation is a rare type of liver transplant. This occurs when the recipient's heart is not fully removed. This is when you are able to save some of your heart. Additional liver transplantation is suitable for offspring or metabolic liver disease that causes acute liver failure.
Knowing the various types of liver transplants can help you and your doctor decide which type is right for you. Your decision may also depend on the availability of a healthy heart and your physical condition.