TACKLING THE GROWING BURDEN OF LIVER DISEASE…at the Global Hospitals event in Panaji on April 17, 2023. Patients, their donors and family pose for a picture with Global Hospitals’ doctors here to caution Goans about the evils of the good life as perceived by Goans! Dr Gaurav Chaubal (in dark navy blue suit) gave a talk on the importance of diagnosing and treating liver diseases early for Goa is a rich state where Goans love their liquor and rich food, all of which can lead to a fatty liver and other diseases later. Also present, Dr Vivek Talaulikar, COO, IHH Healthcare India & CEO, Gleneagles Global Hospitals, Mumbai.
By Pankajbala R Patel
Say Global Hospital doctors in Goa to felicitate a few of their patients who are doing well a year after their liver transplants.
WHEN did you last think of your liver as the mother organ of body beautiful? Think about it now! Reportedly liver disease is a growing concern in India with an estimated 10% of the population suffering from some form of liver disease. This should be of concern to us in Goa where upper crust society lives the good life of copious consumerism and mindless liquor imbibing. It is an unhealthy lifestyles, diet and stress, which ultimately leads to a fatty liver which turns hepatic and eventually goes into chronic and acute failure — sends the sufferer seeking medical treatment and ultimately a liver transplant.
Perhaps 2,000 liver transplants take place in the country annually although reportedly ten times more need to be carried out! It is also a fact that about 50% per cent of the time liver transplant patients admit that they consume too much liquor and eat highly salted, spiced, fried foods – the kind of eating and drinking likely to gift them with a fatty liver. Fatty livers are a pandemic phenomenon not just in India but around the world today! There are metabolic reasons, auto-immune reasons and vascular problems which lead to liver failure eventually so it is wise to take stock of your symptoms and seek treatment earlier rather than later.
A TEAM of visiting doctors from Global Hospitals in Parel, Mumbai, confirm that the prevalence of liver disease is particularly high due to hepatitis B and C infections and prevalence of alcohol consumption. Also, NASH, a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is becoming prevalent in modern times because of overwhelmingly sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating. According to Dr Gautam Chaubal (director, intestine, liver and pancreas transplant and HPB surgeries at Global Hospitals) we should be eating more plant based and protein rich foods with little salt, oil and no heavy cooking…the vegetarian Indian diet is too heavy in carbohydrate intake. For a healthy liver we also need to stay away from alcohol, drugs abuse and sedentary habits.
He has been doing monthly OPDs in Goa for the last 15 months to provide advice to patients in his area of expertise, “Over the last 12 months we have done 4 living donor transplants and around 12 hepato-pancreatic-biliary (HPB) surgeries with 100% successful outcome.” In 2022 alone their Global Mumbai liver transplant team did 126 liver, pancreas and intestine transplants. This was with a mix of living and cadaver donors and adults and pediatric with 95% survival rates, comparable with international standard which is at 89%.
Their Global Hospitals research team has been pioneering work in western India in the field of acute liver failure (ALF), acute chronic liver failure (ACLF), hepatocellular carcinoma, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and viral hepatitis. Global Hospitals offer high-end services and skilled surgeons, added Dr Vivek Talaulikar, COO, IHH Healthcare India and CEO of Gleneagles Global Hospitals in Mumbai. From the sound of it Global Hospitals has become a top-notch destination hospital for organ transplants. It offers dedicated world-class healthcare services 24×7 and is reported to be Western India’s most comprehensive multi-organ transplant centre with more than 1,200 liver and kidney transplants and active programs in hand, heart, intestine, lung, pancreas and bone marrow transplants to their credit.
THE growing number of liver and kidney problems coming up should be a cause of concern to today’s society which first suffers from obesity, it’s a fall-out of atrocious drinking and eating habits. For the last year or so doctors from the Global Hospitals have been coming to Goa on monthly trips to consult at various hospital OPDs (Vision Hospital in Mapusa, Menezes Wellness Hospital in Panaji). Goa does have a high incidence of liver failure. But it is also true worldwide that 50% of the time liver patients’ history reveals use and abuse of alcohol which steadily damages the liver, along with the other deleterious effects of salty, oily foods.
Dr Gaurav Chaubal commented that the liver is the mother organ of body beautiful and we should take care of it by eating more enzyme-rich fresh food, plant-based food, protein-rich food and go easy on salty, sugary carbohydrates. To a query about the cost of a liver transplant he said it could cost from Rs18 lakh to Rs20 lakh and this is even when the donated organ comes free! Patients who come with family donor organs do better for living cadaver organs are otherwise hard to come by…many liver failure patients are waiting for a liver donation.
Ironically, one notices that in India it is usually the women of the patient’s family who are ready to make the sacrifice of donating an organ! Post-liver transplant patients are on immune-supressing medicine life long but this is not so with the donors, within a few months the donors are as good as before because a healthy liver has an extraordinary capacity to regenerate. Of course, only a donor with a healthy liver may donate a piece of their liver to a patient and in this respect perhaps women’s livers are better preserved.
Liver transplant surgeries are complex and require a high level of skill from healthcare professionals, namely hepatologists, anaesthetists, liver transplant surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and other clinicians who must work together to manage the treatment plan of a patient at every stage. Today, of course, surgery of any kind and especially of organ transplants is very highly precise with the invaluable help of robotic technology, 3-vision camera, and much else which offers 100% success and safer and quicker discharge of patients.
With the integration of some cutting edge right technologies, surgical techniques, research backed protocols, fully equipped ICU/ OT and human medical skills, Global Hospital is able to do all kinds of surgeries, all types of liver transplants – living donor liver transplant, deceased donor liver transplant, ABO incompatible liver transplant, auxiliary liver transplant, dual lobe liver transplant, etc. At Global Hospitals everything is in place and so it is not surprising that patients look them up first.
Interestingly, the Global Hospitals team was in Goa on April 17, 2023 (on the eve of World Liver Day which is on April 19) to check up on their liver transplant and other surgery patients, as also felicitate them at a heart-warming function where the family and friends were present. Perhaps also to caution them not to take their kidneys for granted ever again — to make those extra efforts towards lifestyle changes they have been advised to do. For they have a loving family to live for!
POSTSCRIPT: Alcoholism is a serious problem in Goa and statistics reveal that as many as 250 plus liver cirrhosis patients die annually, 263 deaths were reported at the Goa Medical College in 2015 alone. Perhaps the government of Goa reviews its policy of the easy availability of alcohol in Goa! It is unlikely to happen given the business profits accruing from liquor sales.