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Liver Transplant: An Overview

Liver disease has been on the rise for decades, resulting in an increasing number of patients needing a liver transplant. According to the Liver Foundation, 5.5 million Americans are living with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, two of the leading causes of liver failure requiring transplant.

Currently in the United States:

  • Each year, about 8,000 liver transplants are performed according to the Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network
  • Approximately 14,000 people are registered on the waiting list for a liver transplant
  • Nationally, the one year survival rate is 90.9%
  • The national median wait time for a liver transplant is 15 months
  • Living donor liver transplants remain rare, with about 400 performed each year

Why would someone need a transplant?

Your liver is one of your largest organs and has many important metabolic functions. But what does it actually do? It converts nutrients from food into substances your body can use. It also stores these substances and supplies them to cells as needed. The liver also converts toxic substances into harmless substances or ensures they are expelled from the body.

Liver transplants are often recommended when a person has end-stage liver disease, also called chronic liver failure, where the liver is no longer able to perform its many important functions.

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health published a list of the most common reasons for an adult to undergo a liver transplant:

Liver transplant steps

Before a person can actually undergo liver transplant surgery, there is a well-defined process that every patient must go through. While each transplant center will have its own process, the overall steps are the same.

Step 1: Undergo testing and evaluations for committee review

Step 2: A selection committee approves or denies the request to be added to the waitlist

Step 3: If approved, get listed and wait time begins

Step 4: Stay as healthy as possible while waiting

Step 5: Get re-evaluated annually to remain listed

Step 6: Be ready at all times for a call about an organ match

For more pre-transplant information, please read our detailed guide here.

The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Opened in 2003, The Liver Institute at Methodist DallasĀ is one of only three programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area performing adult liver transplants. It prides itself on having consistent outcomes that are above the national average and offering patients a streamlined process that ensures patients are listed as quickly as possible.