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Your liver, which is the largest solid organ in your body, plays a vital role in regulating life processes. This complex organ performs many functions essential to life. You cannot live without it.
The liver, located behind the low er ribs on the right side of your abdomen, weighs about three pounds and in the adult, is roughly the size of a football.
Primary Liver Functions
Converting food into chemicals necessary for life and growth
Manufacturing and exporting important substances used by the rest of the body
Processing drugs absorbed from the digestive tract into forms that are easier for the body to use
Detoxifying and excreting substances that would otherwise be poisonous
Other Liver Functions
Producing quick energy when it is needed
Manufacturing new body proteins
Preventing shortages in body fuel by storing certain vitamins, minerals and sugars
Regulating transport of fat stores
Regulating blood clotting
Aiding in the digestive process by producing bile
Controlling the production and excretion of cholesterol
Neutralizing and destroying poisonous substances
Monitoring and maintaining the proper level of many chemicals and drugs in the blood
Cleansing the blood and discharging waste products into bile
Maintaining hormone balance
Serving as the main organ of blood formation before birth
Helping the body resist infection by producing immune factors and by removing bacteria from the bloodstream
Regenerating its own damaged tissue
Liver Disease in Children
Serious liver disease affects approximately one in every 2,500 children in the United States. Illnesses such as biliary atresia (the most prevalent form of lethal chronic liver disease that strikes infants), acute viral hepatitis and other serious conditions can erode liver function leading to a spectrum of clinical problems ranging from impaired growth and development to death.
Less than 15 years ago, most young children diagnosed with biliary atresia died before the age of two because they were considered too small to receive a liver transplant. Now, infants with this condition are routinely transplanted with high success rates. A major hurdle to overcome has been the scarcity of donors in this age group. This has led to advances in both cadaveric and living donor transplants.