Are You Eligible for a Liver Transplant?

Are You Eligible for a Liver Transplant?

Have you been diagnosed with chronic liver disease?

Have you been told you may need a liver transplant but aren't certain you're a good candidate for the surgery?

We understand that learning you may need a transplant can be a confusing time for you and your family.

We know you will have many questions.

That's why from the time of your referral to Nebraska Medicine, a member of our transplant team will be here to support you and answer any questions as you go through the evaluation process.

The Evaluation Process

To be considered as a candidate for liver transplantation, you will first undergo a thorough transplant evaluation. The evaluation will help our transplant team learn more about you and your disease. It also gives you the opportunity to learn more about our team and transplant process.

The evaluation will:

  • Confirm your diagnosis and determine the extent of the liver injury or disease.
  • Assess other medical or psychological problems affecting your health.
  • Provide information about the risks and benefits of transplantation.
  • Review your financial benefits and discuss the financial considerations associated with a transplant.
  • Answer any questions you and your family may have.

The transplant evaluation usually takes place over three to four days and is done on an outpatient basis, unless an inpatient stay is necessary.

The evaluation includes - but is not limited to - the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Complete physical examination
  • Heart test for adults
  • Lung function test for adults

You will also meet with members of the transplant team, including:

  • Child Life Specialist
  • Dietitian
  • Financial Coordinator
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Transplant nurse coordinator
  • Transplant physician
  • Transplant surgeon
  • Other specialists as indicated (Cardiology, Pulmonary, Nephrology)

Once your evaluation is complete, the multidisciplinary transplant team will carefully review all your information and give their recommendation of the best treatment option for you. A transplant coordinator will contact you to schedule a time to discuss your care plan.

Are you a good candidate for transplantation?

At Nebraska Medicine, we start with the following guidelines to help determine if a patient is a candidate for transplantation. This criteria explains the reasons for inclusion in, or exclusion from, liver transplantation.

In order to be eligible for a liver transplant:

  • You must have chronic irreversible liver disease that has not responded to other medical or surgical treatments.
  • You must qualify for, and be able to, tolerate major surgery.
  • You and your family members/support system must understand the risks and benefits of transplantation, including the long-term need for close medical follow-up and life-long need for anti-rejection therapy.
  • You and your family must be able to accept the responsibility to be involved in the long-term care required after transplantation, including the financial responsibilities.
  • Patients with certain types and stages of liver cancer will be considered for transplantation on a case-by-case basis.
  • Patients with acute fulminant hepatic failure will be considered for transplantation if it is determined they will not recover without a transplant.

You may not be eligible to receive a liver transplant due to:

  • The presence of some other life-threatening disease or condition that would not improve with transplantation. This would include certain cancers, infections that cannot be treated or cured, or significant brain damage that is not thought to be reversible.
  • A history of chronic noncompliance including, but not limited to medical treatments, medications and other behaviors that would affect your ability to fully care for yourself after transplantation.
  • A history of chronic and ongoing drug and/or alcohol abuse that cannot be successfully treated before transplantation, putting yourself at risk for continued harmful behavior after transplantation.
  • A history of serious psychiatric disorders that cannot be successfully treated before transplantation, and would be considered a high risk for ongoing or increased severity of the psychiatric disorder after transplantation.

Waiting for Your Liver Transplant

If liver transplantation is the best option for you and you wish to have the surgery, your name will be placed on a national waiting list based on your blood type, body size (height and weight) and medical urgency.

This time of waiting can be a difficult time for you and your family because there is no way to know when a suitable donor organ will become available. Some patients may only wait days or weeks, while others may wait for months or years for a transplant. We are here to help you and answer any questions you may have while you wait.