Cirrhosis is a serious degenerative disease that occurs when healthy cells in the liver are damaged and replaced by scar tissue, usually as a result of alcohol abuse or chronic hepatitis. As liver cells give way to tough scar tissue, the organ loses its ability to function properly. Severe damage can lead to liver failure and possibly death.
Cirrhosis poses another danger as well: Dense scarring slows the normal flow of blood through the liver, causing blood to find alternate pathways to return...
Makes bile, a compound needed to digest fat and to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K
Makes most of the substances that regulate blood clotting
Helps the body fight infection by removing bacteria from the blood
Removes potentially toxic byproducts of certain medications
When Is a Liver Transplant Needed?
A liver transplant is considered when the liver no longer functions adequately (liver failure). Liver failure can happen suddenly (acute liver failure) as a result of infection or complications from certain medications, for example. Liver failure can also be the end result of a long-term problem. The following conditions may result in chronic liver failure:
Specialists from a variety of fields are needed to determine if a liver transplant is appropriate. Many health care facilities assemble a team of such specialists to evaluate (review your medical history, do tests) and choose candidates for a liver transplant. The team may include the following professionals:
Liver specialist (hepatologist)
Transplant coordinator, usually a registered nurse who specializes in the care of liver-transplant patients (this person will be your primary contact with the transplant team)
Social worker to discuss your support network of family and friends, employment history, and financial needs