Liver Transplant Process
Our comprehensive and experienced care team will support you through the entire transplant process, from referral through ongoing follow-up care. The process includes these steps:
When you are referred for a liver transplant evaluation, we will assign you a transplant coordinator. Transplant coordinators guide patients through initial testing and appointments and answer questions throughout the transplant journey.
In order to determine whether you are a transplant candidate, you will need a transplant evaluation. A transplant evaluation is a series of outpatient appointments. It provides our transplant team with a thorough medical and psychosocial understanding of your condition to determine your candidacy for a liver transplant.
If we determine that the best treatment option for you is a liver transplant, your name will be added to our waiting list. How long patients wait for an available organ varies from person to person. Organs are allocated by blood type, body size and MELD score (the severity of your liver disease). While you are on the waiting list, it is important for you to:
- Stay active
Keep your muscles and body in shape as your physical abilities allow. Check with your primary care physician or cardiologist to make sure your exercise routine is right for your current physical condition.
- Maintain a healthy diet
If you're on a protein-restricted diet, you can get information from the transplant team or meet with a dietitian to help customize a diet that accommodates your tastes, habits and needs.
- Quit smoking
If you need help, ask the liver transplant coordinator.
- Lose weight if needed
This will help reduce the risk of complications during and after the transplant. Most important, dropping excess weight will protect your overall health.
- Get help if you feel depressed
Depression is common among people waiting for transplant. Our trained staff can advise you about available options from support groups to antidepressant medications.
- Stay connected
Make every effort to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Your support system is very important through every stage of the transplant process.
- Join a support group
A forum for learning and sharing can be very valuable to you and your family. For more information on local support groups, contact the transplant social worker or liver transplant coordinator.
When an organ has been identified for you, a liver transplant coordinator will contact you and provide instructions.
Liver transplant surgery is complex and usually takes 2-4 hours. The transplant surgeon will make an incision on the upper part of your abdomen below your ribcage. The surgeon will remove the diseased liver and implant the donor liver by reconnecting blood vessels and bile ducts.
After the surgery, you will be transferred to the intensive care unit, where you will spend about 2 days. You will spend 3-5 days in the transplant unit. You will work with our multidisciplinary team for your post-transplant care. These team members include:
- Transplant surgeon
- Transplant hepatologist
- Transplant nurse coordinator
- Social worker
Your care does not end when you leave the hospital. You will continue to receive exceptional care throughout your lifetime. Your liver transplant team will follow and monitor your progress and address any questions you have along the way.
Transplant success is up to you
You play a crucial role in your transplant recovery and overall success. Follow the instructions of your doctors, keep lab and doctor appointments and call your liver transplant coordinator if there are any problems. Follow these important tips to maintain the function of your new liver:
- Take your medications as prescribed. The transplant team will make adjustments as necessary.
- To help ensure your liver is working properly, you will have blood work as necessary.
- Keep all of your scheduled appointments. You will be seen in our transplant clinic.
- Over time, we will transition care to your primary care physician. The transplant team will continue to follow and monitor your liver transplant care for a lifetime.
- Eat right and exercise regularly.
- Never hesitate to contact your transplant team with questions or concerns.