liver transplant in India - Cost and procedure

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If you ever have to undergo any treatment, then the first thing you should be looking for is best hospital and doctor for the treatment, and then you should go for the cost. In my career, i have seen many people looking for a hospital to get cheaper treatment rather than best treatment and have resulted in spending lots and lots of money but not able to get the right treatment.

There are so many multi-specialty or super-specialty hospitals in India but every hospital has their center of excellence in one or few specific specialties.

So one should not get confused between the hospital having facility and hospital having excellence in liver transplantation on any other treatment or procedure.

Before coming directly to price and centers having excellence in liver transplantation, lets know few things about this procedure, along with the possible causes of Liver failure, type of transplantation procedure, how this procedure is performed, and what a person should expect or do after his/her liver transplantation has been done.

This will help you to get fair idea, if you really have to go for this procedure or there can be any other option, I have always insisted people or patients i have met to get consultation from at least 2 - 3 doctors before going for any major procedure, as you never know you might get a better option.

A liver transplant is a life-preserving surgical procedure that removes a liver that no longer functions properly and replaces it with either a whole or portion of a healthy donated liver.

Reasons for Liver Failure:

  • Liver cirrhosis (involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver. Alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C are common causes of cirrhosis, although there are many other causes.)

  • Alcoholic liver disease

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Early-stage liver cancer

  • Hemochromatosis (a common inherited disease where the body has too much iron)

  • Primary biliary cirrhosis

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis

  • Wilson's disease (a rare inherited disease with abnormal levels of copper throughout the body, including the liver)

  • Biliary duct atresia (a rare disease of the liver that affects newborns)

  • Cystic fibrosis
Donors for the Liver Transplantation:

Deceased donor: Liver transplantation can be done with a deceased donor from someone who has died. The large majority of liver transplants use the entire liver from a non-living donor for the transplant, particularly for adult recipients

Living donor: A living donor is usually someone in the family or a close friend.

Types of Liver Transplant Procedure:

  • Orthotopic Transplantation: In this procedure the receipient’s diseased liver is completely replaced with the healthy liver.
  • Heterotopic Transplantation: In this procedure, the diseased liver is kept remain intact at its place and donor’s liver is placed at the nearest site to the diseased liver. This procedure is performed when the doctor is of the opinion that the diseased liver might recover, if the liver recovers, the other organ shrivels away, if not, then the original one shrivels and the donor liver performs the body functions.
  • Reduced-size Liver Transplantation: This procedure is generally performed on children and involves the transplanting a part of the healthy donor liver into a patient. This procedure is performed when 15-20% of the original liver is intact. This way, one donor liver can be used for two successful transplants.
How Liver Transplantation Procedure is performed

  • The surgery usually takes between five and six hours, but may be longer or shorter due to the difficulty of the operation and the experience of the surgeon.
  • Liver Transplantation is performed under a general anesthesia.
  • Before the surgery, a tube is placed through the mouth of patient into windpipe to help breathe during the operation.
  • A Y-shaped incision in the abdomen is made and the diseased liver is removed. Donated liver is then inserted and attached to the major blood vessels and to the bile ducts. The incision is then closed at the end of surgery.
  • Entire procedure of liver transplantation surgery usually takes about 6-12 hour to perform successfully.
After a liver transplant

After your liver transplant, you can expect to:

  • Possibly stay in the intensive care unit for a few days. Doctors and nurses will monitor your condition to watch for signs of complications. They'll also test your liver function frequently for signs that your new liver is working.
  • Spend 5-10 days in the hospital. Once you're stable, you're taken to a transplant recovery area to continue recuperating.
  • Have frequent checkups as you continue recovering at home. Your transplant team designs a checkup schedule for you. You may undergo blood tests a few times each week at first and then less often over time.
  • Take medications for the rest of your life. You'll take a number of medications after your liver transplant, many for the rest of your life. Drugs called immunosuppressants help keep your immune system from attacking your new liver. Other drugs help reduce the risk of other complications after your transplant.
Hospitals having center of excellence in Liver Transplantation:

  1. Government Hospitals or Institutes

  • AIIMS, New Delhi
  • KEM Hospital, Mumbai
  • GB Pant Hospital, New Delhi
2. Private Hospitals and Transplant Centers

Cost of Liver Transplantation Procedure: Healthcare Field is something where you cannot have a fixed cost, These costs vary from patient to patient due to medical complexities and hospitals to hospitals on the basis of the level of services and facilities availed. Following are the estimates:

  1. Government Hospitals: The cost lies between 5 Lakhs - 10 Lakhs INR (i.e. USD 7500 - USD 16000).
  2. Private Hospitals: In these hospitals the cost lies between 18 Lakhs - 24 Lakhs INR (i.e. USD 28000 - USD 40000).
Please Note: The cost mentioned above includes the cost of donor’s evaluation test and the range may vary according to facility availed such as rooms ( Twin Sharing, Single Ac Private, Deluxe, Suite).
Well in above mentioned estimates government institutes might look very cheap in comparison to private institutes but the level of facility, care and service will not be excellent or that good which private hospitals provide to their patient, also the waiting period can be long in government institute as there are so many patients in the queue to get the cheap treatment.

On the other hand, private hospitals may look expensive but if you compare the price and level of services of these hospitals with the hospitals of U.S. and U.K., you will find it on cheaper side with the same level of qualified doctors and services. In US the cost of the same procedure lies between USD 740,000 - USD 750,000, whereas in UK the cost of same procedure lies between USD 300,000 -USD 1 Million.