A liver transplant is an extremely resource intensive procedure. Teams of doctors from many departments are involved in the care of the patient and donor. These include transplant surgeons, hepatologists, anesthetists, intensivists, operation room technicians, nurses, radiologists (CT scan, MRI and ultrasound), cardiologists, pulmonologists, nephrologists, psychiatrists, gynecologists (for female patients). Expensive medicines are required in large quantitites (albumin, antibiotics, preservative solutions for the liver, anesthetics which are safe for the liver etc). Many consumables are used during and after the operation (clips, drapes, vascular staplers etc). Frequent blood tests are required to monitor the condition of the patient and the functioning of the liver. All these factors contribute to making liver transplant one of the most expensive operations, the world over. However, we have been able to keep costs under control by doing large numbers of cases, standardizing procedures and subsidizing costs of tests.
The cost of a liver transplant at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital is Rs 18 lakhs. This is an all-inclusive package that includes the hospital stay, medicines, consumables, nursing, physiotherapy, professional fees etc. It covers the hospital stay of the patient and donor from admission to discharge. If the patient needs medical management before admission, that would be charged according to actual costs. Both patient and donor need tests and consultations to assess their fitness for surgery. These tests are normally done on OPD basis and would cost a total of 1.5 to 2 lakhs.
The package cost of a pediatric liver transplant is Rs 15 lakhs. The cost of tests to evaluate patient and donor for transplant is similar to that for adults.
While the cost of liver transplant has been rising in most centers, we have managed to actually reduce the cost by standardizing the protocols and minimizing unneccessary expenses. Since the cost if fixed, irrespective of the duration of ICU and hospital stay, the patient does not have to worry about constantly escalating costs if the hospital or ICU stay is prolonged.