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Liver Transplant Evaluation

When your doctor refers you to a transplant center, the transplant team will evaluate you. They will want to make sure that you are a good candidate for a liver transplant. You will make a few visits over several weeks or months. You will need to have blood drawn and x-rays taken.

If the transplant team thinks you are a good candidate for a liver transplant, you will be put on a national waiting list.

If you received a donated liver, you will likely need to stay in the hospital for about three to seven days. After that, you will need to be closely followed up by a doctor and have regular blood tests for one to two months.

The recovery period is about six to 12 months. Your transplant team may ask you to stay close to the hospital for the first three months. You will need to have regular check-ups, with blood tests and x-rays for many years. You will be assigned to a liver transplant coordinator (transplant nurses)  that will follow up along with the team of transplant physicians.

To avoid rejection, almost all transplant recipients must take medicines that suppress their immune response for the rest of their lives. This is called immunosuppressive therapy. A successful transplant requires close follow-up with your doctor. You must always take your medicine as directed.

Before transplant

When your doctor refers you to a transplant center, the transplant team will evaluate you. They will want to make sure that you are a good candidate for a liver transplant. You will make a few visits over several weeks or months. You will need to have blood drawn and x-rays taken.

Tests done before the procedure include:

  • Tissue and blood typing to make sure your body will not reject the donated liver
  • Blood tests or skin tests to check for infection
  • Heart tests such as an EKG, echocardiogram, or cardiac catheterization
  • Tests to look for early cancer
  • Tests to look at your liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, and the blood vessels around the liver

You will want to look at one or more transplant centers to determine which is best for you:

  • Ask the center how many transplants they perform every year, and their survival rates. Compare these numbers to those of other transplant centers.
  • Ask what support groups they have available, and what travel and housing arrangements they offer.

If the transplant team thinks you are a good candidate for a liver transplant, you will be put on a national waiting list.

  • Your place on the waiting list is based on a number of factors. Key factors include the type of liver problems you have, how severe your disease is, and the likelihood that a transplant will be successful.
  • The amount of time you spend on a waiting list is usually not a factor in how soon you get a liver, with the possible exception of children.

While you are waiting for a liver, follow these steps:

  • Follow any diet your transplant team recommends.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Keep your weight in the appropriate range. Follow the exercise program your doctor recommends.
  • Take all medicines prescribed for you. Report changes in your medications and any new or worsening medical problems to the transplant team.
  • Follow-up with your regular doctor and transplant team at any appointments that have been made.
  • Make sure the transplant team has your correct phone numbers, so they can contact you immediately if a liver becomes available. Make sure that, no matter where you are going, you can be contacted quickly and easily.
  • Have everything ready ahead of time to go to the hospital.

After transplant

If you received a donated liver, you will likely need to stay in the hospital for about 3 – 7 days. After that, you will need to be closely followed up by a doctor and have regular blood tests for 1 – 2 months.

The recovery period is about 6 – 12 months. Your transplant team may ask you to stay close to the hospital for the first 3 months. You will need to have regular check-ups, with blood tests and x-rays for many years.

Team of UF Liver Transplant Coordinators