Liver transplantation is a form of surgery that removes an injured or diseased liver and replaces it with a healthy one from a donor. This surgery may be for the entire liver or a segment of the liver.
Average Cost of Liver Transplant
The cost of liver transplants in the United States ranges from $300,000 to $700,000 without insurance. The average falls to around $500,000.
However, please take note that most insurance companies cover liver transplantations. Some health cost comparison sites state that the average cost of a liver transplant is around $100,000 for those who have insurance coverage.
Beside the actual transplant surgery, you have to consider the cost of the initial consultation prior to being qualified for the procedure. This would cost somewhere around $1,400 to $1,600.
The thing with organ transplants is that there is a high probability that your body might reject the new organ. To ensure that this wouldn’t be the case, patients would have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives.
Common anti-rejection drugs for liver transplants may cost around $1,500 to $1,800 per month. Fortunately, these drugs are covered by insurance.
Also, liver transplantation comes with a risk of complications. This may cost around $10,000 to $100,000, depending on the type of complication that might develop.
Failure of the transplanted liver is also a possibility, and patients are lucky if they live long enough to get a second transplant done.
Factors Affecting Cost of Liver Transplant
Due to several factors, the liver transplant price varies. Some of the things you need to consider when looking for more affordable surgery are the following:
- Hospital of choice – the pricing of each hospital for their surgery procedures differs depending on the costs they need to recover plus their markup. Also, reputation has its price.
- Surgeon – when your life is on the line, especially when undergoing this very complicated procedure, you need to ensure that only the best touches your body. Of course, the more skilled and experienced the surgeon is, the more expensive the procedure becomes.
- Location – you also have to consider the location where the surgery is to take place. If you live in progressive cities where everything is expensive, you might need to consider searching for other states with more affordable medical services.
- Severity – understandably, the more severe your condition is, the more complicated the surgery could become because of the additional procedures that need to be done.
- Insurance – having insurance coverage or not, and the extent of coverage will have a very significant impact on the cost you need to pay for the operation.
Possible Complications of Liver Transplantation
Unfortunately, how much does a liver transplant cost would not be your only concern. Like all other surgeries, more so the transplant type, liver transplantation comes with risks and possible complications.
Below are some of the post-surgery complications that you might need to look after:
- Bile duct complications
- Failure of the donated liver
- Blood clot
- Bone thinning
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Who Needs a Liver Transplant?
To qualify for the procedure, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Liver failure
People who suffer from liver failure are the ones in need of liver transplantation. Liver failure may be acute (ALF) or chronic (LC). ALF is a type of liver failure that happens suddenly. In the United States, liver injuries that are drug-induced are the leading cause of acute liver failure. Chronic liver failure, on the other hand, is the type that progresses over months or even years.
- Liver cirrhosis
People with cirrhosis, a condition wherein the liver fails to function properly due to long-term damage, are the most common patients needing liver transplants. They include people who are affected by genetic diseases such as Wilson’s disease or hemochromatosis.
People who suffer from cancers that originate in the liver may also need liver transplants.
- Biliary atresia
This condition only affects infants. It is a kind of disease of the bile ducts where they become inflamed and blocked right after the baby’s birth. Because of this, the bile stays in the liver and starts to destroy the liver’s cells, eventually causing cirrhosis.
What are the Causes of Liver Failure?
The most common cause of liver failure is long-term alcohol abuse. Cirrhosis in adults is commonly caused by forms of hepatitis as well as diseases that affect bile ducts.
A genetic condition called hemochromatosis which causes iron to build up in the liver, as well as Wilson disease, wherein copper builds up in the liver, may also contribute. As for children, biliary atresia may cause liver failure.
This disease, as previously mentioned, affects newborn babies and results in their having damaged or blocked bile ducts or having no bile ducts at all.
What are the symptoms of liver failure?
If you suspect liver failure, there are several ways to detect this. Below is a list of some of the common symptoms of liver failure.
- Detecting jaundice or yellowing of the skin and the white area of the eyes
- Experiencing weakness and fatigue
- Experiencing a loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
- Experiencing nausea
- Experiencing forgetfulness and/or
- Experiencing muscle loss
- Experiencing uncommon itching
- Experiencing bruising as well as easily bleeding due to a lack of blood clotting
- Experiencing dark-colored (black) stools
- Vomiting blood
- Experiencing fluid buildup in the abdomen
Who Are Not Qualified?
Unfortunately, liver transplants are not for everyone, no matter how much you feel you need them. The following conditions will make you ineligible to undergo a liver transplant:
- If you are 65 years old or older and also have other serious health issues.
- If you suffer from a severe organ disease like diabetes
- If you are severely obese
- If you have other severe liver diseases like hepatitis B
- If you are an active alcohol drinker or drug user
- If you have HIV or other severe infection
- If you have an aggressive type of cancer such as bone, lymphoma, bile duct, or myeloma type cancer.
- If you have other organ failures besides liver
- If you have irreversible brain damage
- If you have portal vein thrombosis or PVT
- If you have hepatorenal syndrome (HRS)
- If you have pulmonary hypertension
- If you suffer from some autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis