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How Much Does a Liver Transplant Cost?

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Liver Transplant Costs

Surgeons

Surgeons

It is essential to know the liver transplant cost before booking a surgery appointment with your doctor to treat your loved one or friend.

The liver is the largest essential internal organ in the human body and is vital for several functions, including enzyme activation, metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals, excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs, synthesis of plasma proteins, and bile production and excretion. When the liver fails to perform the above-mentioned functions, one may need to undergo a liver transplant treatment which is a surgery that involves removing a non-functioning liver from a patient and replacing it with a donated healthy liver (whole or partial) usually from a living or a deceased donor.

In other words, a liver transplant surgery may be recommended when the liver is unable to perform its functions in situations such as acute and chronic liver failure, or liver cancer.

The process involves an evaluation in the center of operation to determine if the patient is medically fit and suitable for the operation. The patient will also be counseled on various topics such as nutrition, drug addiction, liver transplant costs, and also psychological evaluation. Thereafter, the surgeons operate on the patient to remove the damaged liver and replace it with a healthy donated liver either from a live or a deceased liver transplant donor.

Symptoms of liver transplant treatment

The symptoms of a cirrhosis liver transplant treatment may vary in patients, since some may manifest the symptoms for many years, while others may develop the symptoms abruptly and suddenly. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Fatigue, weakness, and weight loss
  • Fluid retention in the abdomen (ascites), legs, or chest.
  • Cognitive dysfunction such as disturbed sleep-wake cycle patterns to mild confusion or coma
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Bleeding in the upper or lower large veins that form in the food pipe in patients with liver failure
  • Kidney failure

Coma can also occur in acute liver failure.

Does Insurance Cover Liver Transplant Cost?

Health Insurance Cover

Health Insurance Cover

Liver Transplant Cost and Insurance

Like most organ transplants surgery, the liver transplant cost is high and one has to go through financial history evaluation before the surgery. However, it is comforting to know that most insurance companies (such as Health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid) cover liver transplant costs and one should ensure that they have and maintain an appropriate level of liver transplant insurance coverage before, during, and after the transplant. Knowing the extent of the insurance coverage and what it covers is paramount before the transplant surgery.

The liver transplant costs typically include:

  • Pre-transplant evaluation and testing
  • The liver transplant surgery
  • The hospital stay
  • Follow-up care after surgery including clinic visits, medications, laboratory, and radiology.
  • Laboratory testing and imaging
  • Medications

During the liver transplant process, it is essential to avoid changing or losing insurance coverage as this may affect one’s ability to receive the treatment.

Some liver transplant costs which may not be covered by the insurance may include private room fees, telephone fees, television fees, family accommodations, and guest trays.

The liver transplant cost varies from $330,000 to $575,000 for someone not covered by any health insurance cover. However, this varies from hospital to hospital. For someone covered by insurance, the average cost is around $100,400 according to vimo.com, a health care cost comparison website.

Liver transplant surgery cost in India is much affordable as compared to other western countries. The average cost of a liver transplant is approximately $40,000. Apart from the liver transplant cost in India being the most affordable, there is a high success rate of 85% to 90% due to the state-of-the-art hospitals with world-class surgeons and infrastructure.

Other Liver Transplant Costs

Other Liver Transplant Costs

Other Liver Transplant Costs

Additional liver transplant costs may include:

  • taking the anti-rejection drugs which one will have to take for life. The drugs may cost around $3,000 or $36,000 a year but they are also covered by insurance.
  • Liver transplant complications.
  • Transplanted liver failure and the need for another transplant.

Three Types of Liver Transplant Treatment

The three types of liver replacement surgery are:

  • Orthotopic liver transplant

This is the most type of liver transplant, whereby, the whole liver is taken from a deceased donor who had pledged his or her organs for donation prior to death and had no transmissible illness or cancers. In other words, the donated liver is usually tested for health and medical issues. In this type of transplant, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen to remove the damaged liver, places the donor liver in position, and connects all the blood vessels and bile ducts. The incision is then closed with dissolvable stitches or surgical staples.

  • Living donor liver transplant

This is when a family member, relative, friend, or any living person, is willing to donate their liver. The surgeon usually removes either the left or right lobe of their liver. The right lobe is bigger and is usually recommended for adults and the left lobe is for liver transplant in children. In both the donor and the patient, the liver usually grows to its original size by regeneration in a few weeks.

  • Split or half liver transplant

This is also called an auxiliary liver transplant and is when the donated liver is from a deceased person and two recipients or patients are in need. This mostly occurs when a pediatric liver transplant is involved, that is when the next suitable recipients are an adult and a child. The donor liver will be split into the left and right lobes, with the adult receiving the larger right lobe and the child the smaller left lobe. In the partial liver transplant, both the donor and the recipient’s livers will grow in a few weeks by regeneration to the normal size.

Liver Transplant Cost FAQs

Q1. What happens during liver transplant surgery?

Answer: The damaged or failed liver is removed and replaced with the donated liver through an incision in the abdomen, which is then stitched with dissolvable stitches or surgical staples.

Q2. What happens after transplanting surgery?

Answer: The patient will be moved to an ICU where a ventilator will assist in breathing, and fluid and nutrients will be provided through a tube inserted in the nose to the stomach for a few days. Pain killers will also be provided to relieve pain.

Q3. What are the risks and side effects of a liver transplant?

Answer: The risks are bleeding, blood clots, and infections.

Q4. Who’s eligible for a transplant?

Answer: A patient with a chronic irreversible liver disease who is also in a health condition to tolerate major surgery.

Q5. What are the risks to live donors?

Answer: Organ damage, bleeding, and other complications may occur.

Q6. How long will my liver transplant last?

Answer: It may last for over 5 years or more in 75% of the patients.

Q7. What can I expect my quality of life to be after a liver transplant?

Answer: Life will continue normally but one may have to take medications forever to suppress their immune system from fighting the new liver.

Q8. Will my liver disease come back after a transplant?

Answer: Liver transplant failure may occur in certain types of liver diseases.

Q9. How much pain is typical after the surgery?

Answer: The pain is less as compared to other types of abdominal surgeries.

Q10. How large is the scar?

Answer: the liver transplant scar begins from the right side of the midsection just below the ribs and extends to the left edge of the abdomen, another incision starts from under the breastbone to the horizontal incision.

Q11. How long is the recuperation period?

Answer: The recovery period takes many weeks and depends on how sick the patient was before the transplant.

Q12. Can I return to work after my liver transplant?

Answer: No. depending on the type of work, one has to recover from the surgery.

Q13. Can I drink alcoholic beverages after my liver transplant?

Answer: NO.

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This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Philip Agutu

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 04, 2021:

Philip, you're welcome too.

Philip Agutu (author) from Mombasa Island on September 04, 2021:

Miebakagh and E Randall, thanks a lot for passing by. You are much welcome.

E Randall from United States on September 04, 2021:

Thanks for sharing this information. In America if you get sick for any reason God forbid, it is all about cost with average care at best. Thanks again for sharing this information.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 04, 2021:

An interestly health read. Thanks.

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