Liver Transplant Process
Once a patient is identified as a potential liver transplant candidate, s/he will have an evaluation performed at the UW Hospital and Clinics. S/he will meet with a hepatologist and a transplant surgeon who will gather information regarding their previous medical history. The patient also meets with a financial consultant, a transplant coordinator, a social worker, and a dietitian who will answer their questions and provide them information. If the hepatologist and transplant surgeon determine the patient is a candidate for transplant, more tests and labs will be ordered.
If it is decided that the patient is a transplant candidate and wishes to proceed, s/he is placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. UNOS is a nonprofit organization that matches organs to patients based on blood type, bodyweight and how sick they are. This waiting period can last for days or years, based on a patient's individual circumstance. While waiting, the patient will have clinic visits with the transplant hepatologist. These visits provide an opportunity to monitor the patient's physical condition and provide support and education.
The call for the patient's transplant can come any time of day or night and the patient will need to arrive at the hospital within two to four hours. The surgery typically takes eight to 10 hours and the patient is usually in the hospital about 10 to 15 days, depending upon the recovery process. While recovering in the hospital, the patient receives education about new medications, self-care and follow-up.
Transplantation is a lifelong commitment to follow-up care at the UW Hospital. The first year is intense with frequent laboratory testing and follow-up visits. After the first year, frequency of clinic and laboratory visits decreases significantly, but will remain a lifetime commitment. The transplant team provides lifelong assessment and support with the hope that, after transplant, a patient can return to a normal, active healthy life.