Eric Abidal and The Liver Transplant

Last Spring the football world wished Eric Abidal well when he had a cancerous tumour excised from his liver, we didn’t hear too much more about his recovery until an announcement was made telling us he was on the waiting list for a transplant. I have a very personal experience with liver disease and transplantation. My sister was born with Biliary Atresia and had a transplant when she was 10. I remember the surgery taking around 6 hours, it could’ve been more but I know that two teams of surgeons were needed as her’s was a full plumbing job, bile ducts and all! I wonder if Eric’s case will be suitable for an allograft or will he need a complete new liver. Either way, his recovery will be invariably slower than a 10 year old child’s. My sister was discharged in 2 weeks from King’s College hospital and despite a few hiccups getting the levels of her anti-rejection drugs right, she has make a remarkable recovery. The anti-rejection medication that works for her is cyclosporin, she is on a relatively high dose and 12 years later her kidneys are starting to rebel from the pharmaceutical onslaught that has kept the liver in its place – modern medicine is a truly wonderful thing.

I can’t help but think if Eric plays again, it will be at least 12 months post-transplantation, possibly more, as the last thing he needs is a dig in the ribs. Mind you, Barça and close-contact football aren’t really the best of friends, it’s not like he plays for Leeds! I don’t know how things work in the private sector but regardless of whether you’re washing your hands with Molton Brown or NHS pink squeezy soap, the surgery is still a huge strain on the body. Your organs and shoved about in the process and getting used to the anti-rejection medicine and lifestyle adjustment is a feat in itself. I am aware there is a shortage of African-African heritage donors on the waiting list I don’t know how much power private patients have in bumping up that waiting list but I do know that a good match is very important, whether you’re NHS or private, when your medical condition is thus that you are waiting for a Liver transplant the level of expert care is a given, only time is factored in.

I might be wrong but I’d put money on Eric not returning as a player post-transplant, he will be immuno-suppressed for life, his health will always be under the microscope and special care, let’s hope he’s had the Chicken Pox already as that’s on the ‘stay away’ list for liver patients! There certainly is a lot of positive energy circling the globe from the Barça and footballing family helping him on his road to recovery, and that is always a good thing!

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