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A liver transplant surgery is conducted to remove the diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver donated by either a living or a deceased donor. There are a huge number of people who are listed on the waiting list for a liver transplant because the availability of donated liver is limited. This is the reason why a liver transplant is an expensive procedure and is conducted only in rare cases.

Qualifications for Liver Transplant Recipient

A healthy liver plays an important role in the human body. It plays a key role in the absorption and storage of key nutrients and medications and also helps eliminate bacteria and toxins from the blood.

However, a healthy liver may get diseased over a period of time due to many reasons. Patients with the following liver-related conditions are considered for the liver transplant procedure:

    • Acute liver failure triggered by drug-induced liver injury among other reasons
    • Chronic liver failure or end-stage liver disease due to liver cirrhosis
    • Hepatic tumour or cancer
    • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
    • Alcoholic liver disease
    • Chronic viral hepatitis
    • Diseases causing liver failure
      Some of the leading reasons that contribute to liver cirrhosis include the following:
    • Diseased bile ducts that carry the bile juice from the liver and small intestine to the gall bladder
    • Hemochromatosis, which is a genetic problem where the liver tends to build up iron undesirably
    • Wilson’s disease wherein the liver accumulates copper by itself
    • Biliary atresia in children, a condition wherein an infant is born without the bile ducts or has the ducts blocked or damaged
    • Liver cancers such as cholangiocarcinoma, hepatoblastoma, or hepatocellular carcinoma

 Liver Disease Symptoms

The patients with liver disease may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Muscle and weight loss
  • Black stools and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Confusion and forgetfulness
  • Build up of fluids in the abdomen

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Before the Treatment

How to prepare for a liver transplant?

Both the liver donor and the recipient are matched on the basis of blood group and the size of the organ. A database is maintained to match all these aspects but the transplant team may reject a donor liver on different grounds.

For example, they may refuse to transplant the donor liver in case the patient’s condition improves by itself or if there are chances of rejection or improper functioning of the donated liver after the transplant.

A series of tests related to the other vital organs and a few blood tests are conducted prior to the surgery. Additionally, addiction and financial counseling and other psychometric tests are conducted to ensure the readiness of the patient and positive liver transplant success rate.

The doctor refers the patient to a transplant center where recipients are carefully assessed by a team of liver transplant surgeons. They make a note of the medical history of the patient and blood, X-ray, and physical examination results. The functionality of the kidneys, heart, and lungs is also checked.

A liver transplant committee analyzes the evaluation results and determines whether the person’s name should be included in the national waiting list for a liver transplant or not. The patient is kept informed about the liver transplant criteria for selection and progress at all stages. He or she is also informed about the things that need to be taken care of after the transplant.

How it is Performed

The surgery is scheduled as soon as a suitable donor, whether living or deceased, is identified. The patient undergoes the last set of tests and is prepared for the surgery. The liver transplant procedure is quite long and it takes around 12 hours for it to complete.

The patient is given general anesthesia prior to the surgery. It is administered through a tube inserted into the windpipe. A catheter for fluid drainage and an intravenous line are also placed for administration of medicines and other fluids.

What happens in a liver transplant?

The liver transplant surgeon makes an incision in the upper abdomen and the injured or the diseased liver is gradually detached from the common bile ducts and the connecting blood vessels.

The team clamps the duct and the vessels and then removes the liver. This common bile duct and the related blood vessels are now attached to the liver of the donor.

The donated liver is placed in the same location as the diseased liver after latter’s removal. Some tubes are placed near and around the newly transplanted liver to aid in the removal of fluids and blood from the abdominal region.

Another tube may be used to drain out bile from the transplanted liver into an external pouch. This helps surgeons assess whether the transplanted liver is producing enough bile or not.

In the case of a living donor, two different surgeries are performed. In the first surgery, a portion of the healthy liver is removed from the donor’s body. In the other surgery, the diseased liver is removed from the body of the recipient and the donor’s liver is placed in its position. The liver cells multiply further during the coming months to form entire liver from the piece of the donor liver.


Irrespective of whether the donated liver comes from a living or a deceased donor, the recipient requires the patient to stay in the hospital for at least one week after the surgery.

After completion of the surgery, the patient is taken to the anesthesia recovery room and then finally to the intensive care unit. After the condition of the patient stabilizes, the breathing tube for is removed and the patient is shifted to a normal hospital room.

Multiple monitoring lines are attached in the body of the patient to keep in check the stability of vital organ systems in the body. Liver transplant recovery time varies from one to eight weeks and the patient may be required to stay in the hospital during this period.

Initially, the patient is required to visit the hospital once a month after discharge to undergo a check for transplant compatibility other health-related issues. Later, the frequency can be decreased to once in a year.

Cost Comparison

Cost of Liver Transplant in India

Liver transplant in India is quite affordable as compared to the rest of the countries in the world. Liver transplant cost in India, however, depends on several factors, including your choice of hospital and the Indian city where you decide to seek treatment. But overall, the liver transplant surgery cost in India is quite affordable due to the cheap cost of living and medical care.

Some of the other factors that decided how much should liver transplant in India cost include the following:

  • The charges of the liver transplant surgeons
  • The number of specialists participating in the procedures
  • Number of days spent in intensive care
  • Cost of medications and other consumables
  • Type of hospital room allotted
  • Cost of rehabilitation and post-surgery consultation
  • Total duration of stay at the hospital

Treatment cost in India: 27000
Treatment cost in Turkey: 50000
Treatment cost in Singapore: 290000
Treatment cost in Thailand: n/a
Treatment cost in Israel: 350000
Treatment cost in South Korea: 250000

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Q. What is the liver transplant survival rate?

A. The survival rate in such patients Is around 59 percent. Life expectancy after liver transplantation is greater in women and children as compared to men.

Q. What is the liver transplant life expectancy?

A. Post liver transplant life expectancy varies from one patient to another. It is estimated that 75 percent of the patients survive for the initial five years after the transplant and after that, they may experience liver failure or dysfunction due to a liver disease.

Q. What is the liver transplant exclusion criteria?

A. For patients with cancer, aids, advanced heart or lung diseases, undergoing a liver transplant may not be suitable.

Q. What is the liver transplant cost?

A. The cost of liver transplant cost can go up to $300,000 in the Western countries. In the South Asian countries, the procedure is relatively cheaper and costs just one-tenth of the Western countries.


Doctor's Speak

  • Dr AS SoinDr AS SoinIndia
  • Dr K Yalcin PolatDr K Yalcin PolatTurkey
  • Dr. Subhash Gupta, Chairman- Center for Liver & Biliary Sciences, Max Hospital on Liver TransplantationDr. Subhash GuptaIndia

Patient Stories

  • Mr Azhar Iqbal

    Mr Azhar IqbalPakistan
  • Mr. Abdul Majid

    Mr. Abdul MajidPakistan
  • Patient Story: Mr. Nizam from Pakistan underwent Liver Transplantation in India | MediGence

    Mr NizammudinPakistan

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