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Overview

Our Philosophy of Care

At the University of Rochester Medical Center, we believe a liver transplant is a lifelong commitment for you and for us. We will stay involved with you and your family through the entire transplant process. We get to know you very well and recognize that preparing for and living with a transplant will affect your lifestyle in many ways. We will help you maintain and resume many of your activities and even become involved in new ones.

We are committed to the time, effort, and resources required to make your transplant a success. Our definition of success extends far beyond the operating room. We will work with you to make your life after the transplant as successful as possible.

What is a Liver Transplant?

In a liver transplant, the patient’s diseased liver is surgically removed and replaced by a healthy liver from a donor.

Usually, healthy livers come from donors who have recently died but did not have liver injury. This is called deceased donor transplantation. However, segments of liver can be taken from a living organ donor who may be a family member or friend. This procedure is called living donor transplantation.

The Liver Transplant Process

  • Evaluation - The first step in getting a liver transplant is an evaluation. This is how we determine the severity of your condition and prognosis. Several diagnostic tests may ordered including, physical examination, imaging and blood tests.
  • Finding a liver - After getting your evaluation, you will be placed on the waiting list for a liver. The length of the wait for a liver varies, and can sometimes last months or longer. Getting a liver donation from a live donor, such as a family member, is a faster way to get a liver transplant.
  • Getting a liver – If you are on the waiting list and an organ becomes available, you will need to immediately go to the hospital for the procedure.
  • Surgery – During liver transplant surgery, your surgeon will remove your diseased liver and replace it with the healthy donor liver.
  • Recovery – After your transplant, you will stay in the hospital for a few weeks. You will require check-ups and follow-up care in the months and years following your surgery.

Surgery

You’ll be contacted when a liver is available. If your new liver is from a living donor, both you and the donor will be in surgery at the same time. If your new liver is from a person who has recently died, your surgery starts as soon as the new liver arrives at the hospital. The liver must be transplanted within 12 to 18 hours.

The surgery can take from 4 to 14 hours. You will be given general anesthesia. While the surgeon removes your diseased liver, other doctors prepare the new liver. The surgeon makes an incision in the upper part of your abdomen and then disconnects your diseased liver from your bile ducts and blood vessels before removing it. The blood that flows into your liver will be blocked or sent through a machine to return to the rest of your body. The surgeon will put the healthy liver in place and reconnect it to your bile ducts and blood vessels. Your blood will then flow into your new liver