Skip to main content
More Search Options
A member of our team will call you back within one business day.
During a liver transplant, your child’s sick liver is removed. It’s replaced with a healthy donor liver. This sheet will help you understand the process leading up to your child’s transplant.
Your child’s doctor can tell you more about why now is the right time to begin preparing for a transplant. It may be because the liver is not working as it should. Or, it may be that your child has a health condition that would be improved by a liver transplant.
Before the child is put on the transplant list, a transplant evaluation is done. This takes place at the transplant center or hospital. It takes 2-3 days, and is done outpatient (your child goes home at night). Your child’s health is assessed and tests, such as blood tests and imaging tests, are done. You and your family will also learn more about transplantation. The transplant coordinator and the rest of the transplant team will talk to you about:
Benefits and risks of liver transplantation for your child.
Medications needed after the transplant.
The possibility of organ rejection.
Health insurance and financial issues.
Options for organ donation.
The process of waiting for an organ.
What to expect during surgery.
How to care for your child after surgery.
The emotional aspects of transplant for your child and your family.
Travel plans for the time of transplantation surgery.
In most cases, the new liver comes from a donor who has just died. It might be a whole liver from a child donor. Or, it might be a portion of an adult’s liver. Some transplants are done from living donors, often family members. The portion of the liver removed from the living donor grows back after the transplant. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The donated liver may be too big or too small for the child. After the transplant, a liver that is too small will grow. The child will grow into a liver that’s too large.
A donated liver is screened for disease before the transplant is done. It’s also checked to make sure it’s a match with the child’s blood type.
A living donation transplant can be scheduled ahead of time. It may be able to be done sooner than if the child goes on the waiting list for a non-living donor.
Getting a liver transplant can be a long process. It could be months or even years before a donor liver is found for your child. Here’s what will happen during this time:
The child’s name is added to a national waiting list. This list is ranked by how sick people are. Very sick people are higher on the list than people who don’t need a transplant right away.
Follow instructions for how to stay in contact with the transplant center. The transplant center maintains your child’s status on the waiting list. If the child’s liver disease gets worse or another health problem develops, tell the transplant center right away. These events could change the child’s status on the list.
For more information about liver donation and the national waiting list, visit:
Transplant Living (United Network for Organ Sharing)