How the liver works

The liver has many important jobs - it breaks down and removes chemicals and drugs that may harm your body; it changes food into energy so you can be active; it produces bile which helps your body absorb vitamins and metabolize fat; and it produceLivers proteins that help your blood clot and keep your body healthy.

Signs of liver failure

Patients may have any of these symptoms: jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes), internal bleeding, drowsy and irritable, malnutrition (children with liver failure are often very small and thin), and ascites (fluid collects in the belly).

Who needs a liver transplant?

People with many different diseases and inherited conditions may require a transplant. For children, the most common reasons for transplantation include biliary atresia, hepatitis, and metabolic disorders. Patients' names are added to the transplant waiting list when it is clear that their liver disease is becoming worse and their survival is threatened. Children often wait more than a year before a suitable liver becomes available from a cadaveric donor. Sometimes, children can receive part of a liver from a living donor, usually their parent. This liver segment will grow as the child grows, providing good liver function. Within three months, the parent's liver grows back to its previous size and shape.

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Last Updated July 22, 2008 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada