Liver Transplant Overview
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The liver is the second most commonly transplanted major organ, after the kidney, so it is clear that liver disease is a common and serious problem in this country. It is important for liver transplant candidates and their families to understand the basic process involved with liver transplants, to appreciate some of the challenges and complications that face liver transplant recipients (people who receive livers), and to recognize symptoms that should alert recipients to seek medical help.
Some basics are as follows:
The body needs a healthy liver. The liver is an organ located in the right side of the abdomen below the ribs. The liver has many vital functions.
It is a powerhouse that produces varied substances in the body, including (1) glucose, a basic sugar and energy source; (2) proteins, the building blocks for growth; (3) blood-clotting factors, substances that also aid in healing wounds; and (4) bile, a fluid stored in the gallbladder and necessary for the absorption of fats and vitamins.
As the largest solid organ in the body, the liver is ideal for storing important substances like vitamins and minerals. It also acts as a filter, removing impurities from the blood. Finally, the liver metabolizes and detoxifies substances ingested by the body. Liver disease occurs when these essential functions are disrupted. Liver transplants are needed when damage to the liver severely impairs a person's health and quality of life.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/14/2015
Steve Guillen, MD
Martin Black, MD, FRCP
Grace Thomas, MD
Robert M McNamara, MD, FAAEM
Michael D Burg, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
James Ungar, MD
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Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Liver Transplant:
Liver Transplant - Patient Experience
Did you have a liver transplant? If so, please describe your experience.
Liver Disease - Symptoms
What were the first symptoms of liver disease you experienced?
Liver Transplant - Causes
What was the cause of you needing a liver transplant?