Liver Transplant Without Matching Donor Possible Now – Dr Ankur Garg

As per a recent study published in Financial Express organ donation rate in India is 0.34 per million of population which is way less than other countries like Spain and USA which have a rate of 35.1 and 21.9 organs per million population. These figures are disappointing with respect to the requirement of organs for transplant in India. As per Dr Ankur Garg, Director Liver Transplant and GI Surgery at LivCure Centre, Delhi/NCR, “India has 25-30 thousand patients waiting for liver transplant in India per year and against that approximately 1500 transplants are being done. Waiting time is so long!”

Number of liver transplants performed around the world are not very large in number. Ironically it is not the number of patients that are less but the availability of matching donor is the main reason. Many patients who are at the end stage liver disease need immediate liver transplant surgery to survive, however due to unavailability of a matching donor in the direct blood relation leads to their death. Even the cadaveric donors are very less in number, especially in India due to various religious beliefs organ donations are very limited.

For a liver transplant the basic requirement is that the donor’s blood group should match with the recipient’s blood group, RH typing (+/-) does not matter. With the advent of medical technology and continuous research across the globe, now liver transplant surgery can also be performed in case of unmatched donor. This is called ABO Incompatible Liver Transplant. Apprising us about the ABO Incompatible or unmatched liver transplant surgery Dr Ankur Garg says,” As of now this is still not the first choice of liver transplant in India. We go for an unmatched liver transplant surgery only in case of emergency. The biggest challenge in these transplants is to prevent rejection of the transplanted liver by the body.”

There are research going on around the world to overcome the challenge of organ rejection in ABO incompatible liver transplants. There are few methods through which liver transplant surgeon reduce the chances of organ rejection in such patients. “In some cases we remove the spleen before the organ transplant and in some cases we start Immunosuppressant a week before the transplant and continue it after the surgery as well. The only drawback with both the above procedures is that you are more prone to catch infection as your immune system is suppressed with either spleen removal or immunosuppressant”, says Dr Ankur Garg.

Whatever may be the drawbacks or the risk associated with an ABO incompatible liver transplant may be but it still gives hope to patients who are in dire need of a liver transplant surgery and are on the verge of losing their life due to unavailability of the donor or liver. Let’s follow the person who invented the airplane and not the one who invented parachute!!


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