Although the heart is much more mythic, the liver is the noble organ par excellence and the liver transplant is one of the most complicated. It is a very complicated operation and as vital as a heart transplant.
The liver is, although many people do not know it, the authentic organ of life. Physiologically, it is much more complex than the heart or the kidney. The history of liver transplantation is plagued with numerous attempts throughout the world during the 60s and 70s. The results of these attempts were not favorable since, in the best hands, the survival rate was 30%.
It was in the 80s when improvements were introduced in the equipment and medical techniques and with it the survival went from 30 to 70%. This percentage will continue to increase in the following decades in patients, who would otherwise be condemned to death in days or, at the most, months.
In our country, Carles Margarit and Eduardo Jaurrieta were the first doctors to carry out a successful liver transplant operation. In addition, in Spain a huge number of liver transplants are performed successfully.
Do we know what the liver is and how it works?
The liver is an organ, as we have said, fundamental and vital. This is due to the importance of each and every one of the functions performed. It is located low on the diaphragm, on the right side. Due to its size it tends to traverse the abdominal cavity longitudinally.
It is formed by a right lobe and a left one. The cells that form it are called hepatocytes and at the microscopic level it is formed by lobules, which are the liver functional units.
As for his blood supply, he receives blood through the hepatic artery and the portal vein, which transports the blood he receives from the intestine. These are the 6 main functions of the liver:
- Production of bile : bile is necessary for the digestion of food. It is stored in the gallbladder and excreted into the bile duct.
- Metabolism : the metabolic functions of the liver are very numerous. It intervenes in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.
- Immune function.
- Detoxification of the blood : it metabolizes ethanol and most of the drugs, neutralizes numerous toxins, transforms the ammonium into urea and also metabolizes the bilirubin.
- Storage of substances : stores substances such as glycogen, vitamins and minerals.
- Hematopoiesis : during the 12 weeks of intrauterine life, the liver is the main organ of production of red blood cells in the fetus.
How is a liver transplant?
You can not live with a liver that does not work properly. If this organ fails, the doctor must place the patient on a waiting list for a liver transplant. The transplant option must be the last, it must be done if the other treatments fail to keep a damaged liver functioning.
The most common cause of liver transplantation in adults is cirrhosis, a disease that affects organ tissue. As for children, the most common cause is biliary atresia (bile duct disease).
The donor of the organ must not suffer from any disease related to thespecific organ. As for the patient, it is required that he / she has a fairly approximate age with that of the donor. The patient who is going to undergo this operation must take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the new organ.
Liver transplant technique
Liver transplantation is one of the most expensive treatments in modern medicine. The most used technique for this operation is orthotopic transplantation. That is, the liver of the sick patient is replaced by the donor’s liver in the original anatomical position.
During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes the damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. Most donated livers come from a person who has died. However, in some cases, a living donor may donate a portion of their liver to a relative or friend who requires it. In these cases, the transplant is a partial liver transplant.