Before a Liver Transplant

Contact Us

Get a Referral

The transplant process begins with a referral by your family doctor or hepatologist.

Or, you can initiate the process by contacting our referral coordinator, who will collect basic medical information. Our financial counselor will then contact you to provide advice on basic financial questions and begin contact with your insurers.

The Evaluation Process

Your evaluation will begin with a visit to our transplant clinic, which usually takes place on a Monday or a Thursday. During this visit, you will:

  • Begin the day with a one-hour education class reviewing all the aspects of a liver transplant 
  • Meet with each member of your transplant care team – the hepatologist, surgeon, nurse coordinator, social worker, nutritionist and the financial coordinator
  • Scheduled additional testing

In order to be considered as a candidate for a liver transplant, you may need to undergo diagnostic testing and exams that include:

  • Complete medical and physical history and blood work
  • Chest X-ray and heart tests
  • Social work evaluation
  • MRI of liver, abdominal organs and vessels
  • Colonoscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • Tuberculosis testing
  • Mammogram and pap smear for women
  • Dental exam
  • Evaluation by a neuropsychologist

Due to the known damage caused by alcohol, we require you to be alcohol-free for six months before we can place you on the waiting list. We recommend that all of our liver transplant candidates stop the use of alcohol and non-prescribed drugs.

Your First Clinic Visit

Sometimes we schedule testing to be performed the day of your first clinic visit. This may require that you stay overnight in the area in order to complete required testing. This first visit will take most of the day and possibly a second day.

You need to bring a family member or your primary support person to your first clinic visit. Having a successful transplant will only be possible if you have the support of family or friends who are willing to commit to helping you through this process.

Transplant Team Review

Our transplant team reviews your evaluation to consider your eligibility for placement on the national wait list. We will also recommend a treatment plan for your continued care.

If the transplant team considers you eligible, our hepatologists will see, treat and coordinate your care with local providers. Your referral coordinator provides vital guidance and directs you and your care partners when action needs to be taken. 

Waiting for An Organ

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a federally regulated, non-profit organization, manages the transplant wait list nationwide. They use a complex set of factors to ensure distribution of organs is handled fairly.

Liver transplant candidates are assigned a status code, referred to as the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease/Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD/PELD scores). Livers are offered to those with the highest medical urgency based on these scores.

The waiting time for a liver varies. It may last only days, a month or it may take a year or two. It is based on the acuity, or level of illness, of the candidate.