Before a Liver Transplant
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. Then our financial counselor will contact you to provide advice on basic financial questions and begin contact with relevant insurers.
Get started: Call 800.543.8814
The Evaluation Process
Your evaluation will begin with a visit to our transplant clinic, which usually take 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 you need to consider
- Meet with each member of your transplant care team – the hepatologist, surgeon, nurse coordinator, social worker, nutritionist and the financial coordinator
- Scheduled additional testing
Diagnostic testing and exams that may be required before you can be considered as a candidate for liver transplant include:
- Complete history, physical and blood work
- Chest X-ray and heart tests
- Social work evaluation
- MRI of liver, abdominal organs and vessels
- Testing for tuberculosis
- 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.
For Your First Clinic Visit
Sometimes we schedule testing to be performed the day of the 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.
You need to bring your family member or your primary support person to your first clinic visit. We will want to meet with them as well as you. 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.
Questions?liver patient education handbook for pre-transplant (PDF)
Transplant Team Review
After the evaluation process, the transplant team reviews your evaluation to consider your eligibility for placement on the national waiting list. We will also recommend a treatment plan for your continued care.
Waiting for An Organ
The wait list for transplant is managed nationwide by a federally regulated, non-profit organization called the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS uses a complex set of factors to ensure distribution of organs is handled fairly.
Liver transplant candidates are assigned a status code, referred to as MELD/PELD scores (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease/Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease). 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.
Find out about liver transplant surgery.
Living Donations Mean a Shorter Wait
A liver may come from a living or deceased donor. Living donors, who donate a portion of their liver, are often family members or close friends. The benefits of living donation include a shorter waiting time and the ability to schedule surgery to accommodate your needs.
Learn more about the logistics of a living liver donation.