Being told that your child needs a liver transplant may leave you feeling scared, angry, or confused. You might not fully understand why your child needs a new organ or where the new organ will come from. Just thinking about the months ahead may fill you with dread and worry.
The liver might fail to work properly for many reasons. Among children, the most common reason for liver failure is biliary atresia. This happens when the liver's bile ducts (tubes that carry bile out of the liver) are missing or blocked. When bile can't leave the liver, it causes liver damage or cirrhosis. The causes of biliary atresia are unknown. Some children who have it are born with it; others develop it later.
Other reasons the liver might stop working include:
- Alagille Syndrome: An inherited (genetic) disease that causes liver abnormalities and other problems
- Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency: This inherited disorder prevents the body from producing the protein alpha-1-antitrypsin, leading to lung and liver damage
- Hemochromatosis: An inherited disease that causes the body to take in and store too much iron, which can damage many organs
- Hepatitis: This liver inflammation can have a variety of causes
- Wilson Disease: An inherited disorder that causes a build-up of copper in the body, which can damage many organs