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Posted Mar 02 2013 2:34pm
KOLKATA: Liver transplants could get easier and cheaper in the next 5-7 years and help to save at least 5000 patients in West Bengal annually. Diseases like cirrhosis of liver in adults and biliary atresia in children account for around 2500 deaths every year. Once patients are made aware of transplant and its benefits, it can be treated more effectively and help curb mortality rate to a great extent, says Anupam Sibal, Delhi-based paediatric gastro-eneterologist. A member of the medical team that conducted the first liver transplant in India thirteen years ago, Sibal visited Kolkata on behalf of the Children's Liver Disease Awareness and Support Programme ( CLASP). "While in USA a transplant costs around Rs 1.2 crore, it is only around Rs 20 lakh for an adult and Rs 12 lakh for a child in India. With more and more clinical instruments being manufactured in India, the costs are coming down further. What we now need is a greater awareness. We need to tell people how liver diseases could be prevented. Then, they should be told how transplants make it possible for patients to lead a normal and healthy life," said Sibal. The first transplant had been done on an 18-month-old child in Kancheepuram way back in 1998. The child Sanjay Kandaswamy is now a 13-year-old boy. "Sanjay is the ambassador of liver transplantation and his story has inspired hundreds of patients with liver failure to opt for a transplant," added Sibal, who had conducted the transplant along with five others. While just 80 transpalnts were done over the next seven years, scores are happening every week now. "Organ transplant is yet to take off in a big way in India, but liver transplants are being done at a fair rate. There is scope for more. The liver has eight parts, of which 2-4 parts could be replaced with that of a blood relative. While it takes 10 days for the donor to regain fitness, the patient is usually released in three weeks," explained Sibal. About 50% of the transplants in children are needed due to biliary atresia - a condition in which there is no connection between the liver and the intestine. Hepatitis B, C, alcohol and liver cancer are the common causes of liver failure in adults. "If a baby has jaundice within two weeks of birth, a liver failure can't be ruled out. But low awareness, even among the medical community, often results in neglect. I have come across hundreds of cases where the liver could have been saved with proper treatment. In adults, there is a fear associated with transplant. arranging for a donor is a big problem. Since cadaver transplantations are not yet frequent in India, blood relatives are the only option. Often, they are not ready to undergo the surgery. We have to convince them that they are not giving away the entire organ," said Sibal. SOURCE:---
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