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Metabolic diseases may call for a liver transplant to:
Learn more below about some of the metabolic diseases that may benefit from a liver transplant.
Alpha-I antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein the liver produces that protects the lungs.
A deficiency can harm the body in two ways:
In Crigler-Najjar syndrome I, the liver lacks an enzyme that allows it to process bilirubin. Bilirubin builds up, enters the bloodstream, and begins to accumulate in other organs — such as the eyes and skin.
This causes jaundice and may eventually cause nerve and brain damage.
Cystic fibrosis affects the way salt and water move in and out of cells, causing secretions to be thicker and more viscous.
This can make it hard for bile to flow out of the liver. A back up of bile can cause liver problems, such as cirrhosis.
In familial cholestasis, the liver can't drain bile — even though the bile ducts are open. Bile helps digest fat and remove toxins from of the body.
This leads to scarring of the liver, liver failure, and often, severe itching.
In children with glycogen storage disease, enzymes that help convert blood sugar to glycogen (to store it) are defective, deficient, or absent.
This causes the buildup of abnormal amounts and types of glycogen in the liver and/or muscle tissues. In some cases, it may lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
In MSUD, certain proteins aren't able to break down important amino acids in food. High levels of these acids — and their byproducts in the body — can cause damage to the brain and other organs.
MSUD has a constant risk of metabolic crisis and requires regular medical monitoring. Liver transplant can completely and permanently restore metabolic functioning.
Hemochromatosis is an extremely rare genetic disorder in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron. The neonatal form of the disease causes severe damage to the liver in the form of hepatitis.
Neonatal hemochromatosis often progresses so quickly that babies either die in the womb, are stillborn, or do not survive their first week of birth.
In primary hyperoxaluria, the liver is unable to make a protein that prevents a chemical — called oxalate— from building up in the urine. High amounts of oxalate in the urine can lead to a condition called oxalosis.
This causes oxalate to spread to eyes, bones, skins, muscles, the heart, and other organs, causing severe damage.
In tyrosenemia, the body lacks an enzyme that lets it effectively break down proteins.
This causes proteins to build up in the liver and other organs, becoming toxic, and can lead to severe liver disease.
In a urea cycle disorder, the body produces insufficient amounts of one or more enzymes responsible for converting nitrogen to urea and removing it from the body.
Instead, nitrogen accumulates in the blood in the form of ammonia. Sufficient accumulation of ammonia in the blood stream can reach the brain and cause irreversible damage.
In Wilson’s disease, the liver is unable to filter copper, causing it to build up in the liver, brain, eyes, and other organs.
This can cause life-threatening damage, and psychiatric and neuromuscular symptoms.
Contact the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at Children's to discuss your child’s metabolic disease at 412-692-6110.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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