How Long Can a Person Live After a Liver Transplant (And Why?)

Exact Answer: About Five Years

The human body has many essential organs which perform a multitude of functions. One of them is the liver. It performs a variety of functions from processing nutrients and hormones to regulating the autoimmune system of the body.

When a liver becomes severely damaged or starts to fail, a transplant becomes necessary to save the body. A liver transplant is a process of surgically replacing the damaged liver or a part of it with a healthy one. It certainly increases life expectancy by some factor.

How Long Can a Person Live After Liver Transplant?

A liver transplant is often used as a final treatment for people whose liver has been severely damaged to the point of liver failure. In many cases, it is also done when there is a sudden liver failure of a healthy person.

How long a person lives after a liver transplant varies from 1 year to even 20 years. The most common of these is around five years. It is a complicated process. How long a person will live after a liver transplant depends on the type of liver transplant the person gets:

Living Donor

The recipient of the liver in this case does not have to wait much longer and the transplant can be done soon. These patients however have a short-term survival rate. They live for about 1 to 5 years. They can live longer too but, in most cases, they die within the five years following their transplant.

Deceased Donor

These people who have received a liver from a deceased have a better chance of long-term survival. They usually live for more than 5 years and, in many cases, up to 20 or even 30 years.

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DonorDuration
Living Donor1 to 5 years
Deceased DonorOver 5 years

It is important to note that a variety of other factors also play an important role in determining the survival term and rate of people after a liver transplant. These factors include BMI, health conditions before and after the surgery, diet, exercise, and other living conditions, taking medications as directed, and a lot more.

Why do People Live This Long After a Liver Transplant?

A liver transplant is a complicated process. Many reasons can determine their success and failure. The most expert of surgeons can try their best to make it a success and it still depends on the patient after the surgery how long he or she lives.

In the case of living donors, people do not have to wait long, while in the case of deceased donors there is a very long wait during which the health of the patient may worsen. These factors play significant roles in determining the life expectancy of the patient post-surgery.

A liver transplant may evade the immediate death of the patient but it usually does not increase the life expectancy by much. This is so because there is very serious damage to the liver before the transplant.

After the transplant, a very strict and careful lifestyle needs to be led by the person to best their chances. There are many health risks following the transplant, the most serious of which include rejection of the new liver by the body, reappearance of the old disease in the new liver, internal bleeding, etc.

These factors when all combined determine how long a person will live after a liver transplant.

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Conclusion

The liver is one of the most vital organs, whose failure will render the body incapable of functioning. When the liver is immensely damaged and the medications can no longer work to make it better, a liver transplant is a chosen option.

It is a method of replacing the damaged liver with a healthy one taken from a living or deceased donor. In the case of a living donor, only a part of the liver is taken and the transplant happens soon. In the case of a deceased donor, there is a waiting list.

The life expectancy after the transplant is recorded to be around 5 years on average, but many factors come into play here and the person can have an active hand in enhancing it as well.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1527646503816945
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-6143.2009.02869.x