#1 Ranked Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report
MyPatients provides referring primary care providers with secure access to their patients’ information.
Boston Children's has launched the world's 1st program dedicated to offering hand transplants to children who qualify.
Innovation insider is a semi-monthly e-newsletter analyzes innovations at Boston Children’s, other academic medical centers and from industry.
Read the latest blog by a Boston Children's doctor, clinician or staff member.
There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child might need a liver transplant.
We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions here, and when you meet with our experts, we can explain your child’s options fully.
If a person donates part of his liver, it will grow back to its original size in just a few weeks after the donation. And your child’s new liver will grow to an appropriate size, and continue to grow normally as she grows into adulthood.
The most common condition that necessitates a liver transplant in children is biliary atresia. Other conditions that may require a liver transplant include:
To speak with a member of our Liver Transplant Team, please call: 617-35-LIVER.
It’s not always easy; most times, you will see no signs, and rejection will be found by routine monitoring of your child’s blood tests.
Some of the most common signs include:
Your child’s transplant team will watch for these signs and show you what to look for.
Your child’s transplant pharmacist will work closely with the rest of the transplant team to determine the best medications for your child. Some of the most common ones are:
These medications work by suppressing the immune system, but that means that your child will be at higher risk for infections. Our team will continually monitor his health through blood tests and other exams, and the dosages may change frequently.
Some other infections your child may be especially susceptible to include:
This risk of infections is especially high during the first few months after a transplant. This is because higher doses of anti-rejection medicines are given, so the immune system is especially suppressed.
What’s the long-term outlook for my child?
Every child and every transplant is different, so it’s hard to make a general statement about long-term outlook. The large majority of children who have had liver transplants survive the first year, and most of them live into adulthood. Your child’s doctors will explain the risks and expectations for your child when he is placed on the waiting list for a transplant.
Long-term immunosuppression carries risks—not only from increased susceptibility to infection, but also from the effects of the immunosuppressive medicines. Still, with appropriate medical follow-up, most children go to school, participate in sports, work in all types of jobs and professions, have healthy children and generally lead full and happy lives.
Results continually improve as researchers at Boston Children’s and elsewhere learn more about how the body deals with transplanted organs and search for ways to improve the success of transplants.
Where do transplanted livers come from?
Transplanted livers can come from two places:
Sometimes when an adult liver becomes available and is an appropriate match for two children (or an adult and a child) on the waiting list, the donor liver can be divided into two parts and each part is transplanted.
Is it better to receive a whole liver than a partial liver?
No, children who receive a partial liver transplant do just as well as those who receive a whole liver.
Who distributes the donor organs?
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is responsible for transplant organ distribution in the United States. They oversee the distribution of most types of solid organ transplants. In addition to livers, they allocate hearts, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, intestines and corneas.
How are donor organs distributed?
UNOS keeps a list of all the people in the United States who need solid organ transplants. If your child needs a liver transplant, he will be given an allocation score based on how severe his condition is and how urgently he needs the transplant.
Those who would benefit most are given higher scores, and are given first priority when donor organs become available.
When a donor liver becomes available:
When the decision is made to put your child on the transplant list, we will send her medical profile to UNOS, and keep them updated them as her condition changes.
How long is the wait?
We know that it’s agonizing to wait for a donor organ, but, unfortunately, there’s no definite answer to this question. Your child may be on the list for weeks or months, or it may take longer. We will collect all of your contact information and, if necessary, you will be given a beeper for us to be able to reach you at all times.
What happens while we wait?
We recommend that you use your waiting time to prepare for your child's surgery. A donor liver can become available at any time, day or night, and it is crucial to plan ahead for when this occurs. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Waiting for an available donor liver is often the most stressful time for our patients and their families. Please remember that we are always here to offer you support and resources should you need them.
How will I be notified when a donor liver is available?
When a liver that seems to be a good match for your child becomes available, we will notify you by phone or pager. You’ll be asked to come to the hospital immediately.
When you receive the call to come to the hospital, be prepared to:
Keep in mind that it is possible that you may be sent back home if one or both of the following things occur:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”