Liver Transplant | Listing & Waiting

After a child is evaluated to determine if transplant is the best treatment option, the team informs the family of the results. They also communicate these findings to the child’s primary care physician and other referring specialists. In all of these situations, the liver transplant team works closely with the family and the child’s physicians to develop a coordinated care plan.

Listing for liver transplant

If a decision has been made that a deceased donor liver transplant is the most appropriate treatment option, the child will be “listed” on a national computer system, United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) as a potential transplant recipient. UNOS matches organ donors by weight and blood type with individuals waiting for a new liver.

UNOS receives data from hospitals and medical centers throughout the country, regarding adults and children who need organ transplants. The Pediatric Transplant Center is responsible for sending the data to UNOS and updating them as the child’s condition changes. Criteria have been developed to ensure that all people on the waiting list are judged fairly as to the severity of their illness and the urgency of receiving a transplant. Once UNOS receives the data from local hospitals, people waiting for a transplant are placed on a waiting list and given a “status” code. The people in most urgent need of a transplant are placed highest on the status list and are given first priority when a donor liver becomes available.

Waiting for liver transplant

The wait can be from days to months to more than a year, depending on the severity of illness, blood type and weight. Transportation arrangements are planned by the recipient’s family to reach the hospital in a timely fashion. All families are required to complete a contact sheet, so the transplant team can locate them at any time when an organ becomes available.

The goal during waiting is to preserve the child’s current liver function and to ensure the best quality of life possible. The child will have frequent visits to the hospital for periodic check-ups, including physical examinations and blood work.

The liver transplant team supports the family and the child during this waiting period. Our social worker, child life specialist and child psychiatrist or psychologists are also available to check in with the family as needed.

Liver transplant team: On call 24/7

The Liver Transplant Program has surgeons and physicians available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and seven days a week to provide program coverage. A transplant surgeon or transplant physician is readily available to facilitate organ acceptance, procurement and implantation as well as to address urgent patient issues.