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Monday, April 7, 2008

Long live the liver



HEALING TOUCH Gastro Conclave in session in New Delhi

`The need for liver transplant is immense,' says Dr. Rakesh Tandon, senior gastroentrologist Pashupati Singhania Research Institute, New Delhi. Five years ago, patients in need of a transplant were forced to go to Europe or America but now there are centres in the Asia Pacific region and India.

For an exchange of knowledge, between Singapore and India, a `Gastro Conclave - seminar on Liver Transplant' was recently held in New Delhi and Lucknow. It was organised by Singapore Medicine - a Government initiative in partnership with Pancreato Biliary and Liver Diseases Foundation. The conclave, updated Indian gastroentrologists on indications of liver failure, liver transplant in Singapore and post-hepatic transplant care.

Short of demand

In India, the first liver transplant was performed in 1998. "There are only 10 centres, which provide liver transplants," says Dr Tandon, adding, "This is abysmally short of demand."

Despite the large number of patients who die of liver failure, liver transplantation is not as advanced as other organ transplants in India. This is because of prohibitively high costs of a liver transplant and the non-availability of cadaver donors. A liver transplant in a private hospital would cost up to Rs.35 lakhs. Dr. K.C. Tan, a leading liver transplant surgeon of Parkway Hospitals, Gleneagles, Singapore, says, "Only when the costs come down, will more people take to it," he continues, "it is too expensive for even the Government to support completely."

N.D. Bhatia, who recently underwent liver surgery, vouches for the excellence of Parkway Hospitals and for Dr. Tan's abilities. Having had the surgery barely two months ago, he says, "I was very happy in Singapore."

In India the incidence of liver diseases is high, and is mainly caused by Hepatitis B and C infection. In India there is a 70-75% survival rate for liver transplantation. Outside of India it is as high as 90%. Considering the need and success rate, liver transplants require an urgent fillip.

NANDINI NAIR

Via: http://www.hindu.com

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