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- When is a liver transplant needed?
- How are candidates for liver transplant determined?
- Which tests are required before getting a liver transplant?
- How does the waiting list work?
- Where does a liver for a transplant come from?
- What happens when they find a liver transplant match?
- What happens during the liver transplant operation?
- What complications are associated with liver transplantation?
- What are antirejection medications?
- When will I be able to go home after a liver transplant?
- What follow-up is necessary after a liver transplant?
Where does a liver for a transplant come from?
There are two types of liver transplant options: living donor transplant and deceased donor transplant.
Living donor liver transplants are an option for some patients with end-stage liver disease. This involves removing a segment of liver from a healthy living donor and implanting it into a recipient. Both the donor and recipient liver segments will grow to normal size in a few weeks to months.
The donor, who may be a blood relative, spouse, or friend, will have extensive medical and psychological evaluations to ensure the lowest possible risk. Blood type and body size are critical factors in determining who is an appropriate donor.
Recipients for the living donor transplant must be active on the transplant waiting list. Their health must also be stable enough to undergo transplantation with excellent chances of success.
In deceased donor liver transplant, the donor may be a victim of an accident or head injury. The donor's heart is still beating, but the brain has stopped functioning. Such a person is considered legally dead, because his or her brain has permanently and irreversibly stopped working. At this point, the donor is usually in an intensive-care unit.
The identity of a deceased donor and circumstances surrounding the person's death are kept confidential.
Screening for Liver Transplant Donors
Hospitals will evaluate all potential liver transplant donors for evidence of liver disease, alcohol or drug abuse, cancer, or infection. Donors will also be tested for hepatitis, AIDS, and other infections. If this screening does not reveal problems with the liver, donors and recipients are matched according to blood type and body size. Age, race, and sex are not considered.
The transplant team will discuss your transplantation options with you at the time of your pre-transplant evaluation, or you can contact the transplant team for more information.