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Liver Transplant

A liver transplant is a treatment for life-threatening end-stage liver failure. Surgeons replace your diseased organ with healthy liver tissue. It may be a deceased donor’s liver or part of a liver from a live donor.

Liver failure is a serious condition. It can cause confusion, jaundice (yellowed skin or eyes), bleeding, swollen abdomen, sleepiness or coma.

Liver dialysis (filtering) and other nonsurgical therapies treat liver failure, but you may still need a transplant. A liver transplant procedure may extend your life and enable a more active lifestyle. Temple Health’s transplant team will discuss your best treatment plan, including diet and lifestyle changes.

Liver Transplant Procedure

Your coordinator will guide you through pre-transplant processes such as placing your IV. A doctor will give you anesthesia and monitor your breathing and other signs.

Your surgeons will remove your liver and connecting structures, clamping blood vessels. When they implant the new liver, they will sew donor-organ blood vessels to yours. Once blood flows properly, your surgeons will attach the donor bile ducts to yours. After checking for abnormal bleeding, they will close the incision. Surgery can take five to 10 hours.

Criteria for a Liver Transplant

Requirements Include

  • Life-threatening liver disease
  • Otherwise good health
  • Good support system
  • Compatible donor blood and body type

Disqualifications Include

  • Substance use disorder
  • Infections
  • Life-threatening diseases
  • Donor feels pressured
  • Difficulty following care requirements
Liver Transplant Recovery

You’ll be in intensive care overnight before moving to a hospital room where specialists will oversee care. Hospitalization lasts two to eight weeks. You’ll learn about home care, medications and complications. You’ll take anti-rejection drugs for life. Recovery takes a few months or longer, progressing from weekly to annual outpatient visits.

Diet Requirements After Liver Transplant

Specialists will guide your liver transplant diet. Drink plenty of water, and choose vegetables, fruit, high-fiber foods, lean meat and certain fish. Avoid alcohol and fried, fatty, sugary or salty foods.

Living Donor Liver Transplant

Livers often come from deceased donors. However, living donor transplants of partial organs are possible since livers regrow. Requirements for living donors include:

  • 18-60 years old

  • Good health and support system

  • Donating without pressure

  • Compatible body structure, blood type and other factors

  • Non-smoker

  • No pregnancy or excess weight

Living donors shorten waiting times and add scheduling convenience. Tissue requires less preparation and delivery delays. For some, living donors may improve success.

Qualifying donors will have blood tests, imaging and other exams. They will meet transplant teams and specialists. Processes range from two days (emergency) to two weeks or a month. Contact about procedures, benefits and risks.

Living Donor Liver Transplant Procedure

Your team will help you prepare. Surgeons will remove a small liver segment. Its size, type and location depend on the procedure and donor condition and needs.

Temple Health surgeons may use less invasive laparoscopy. After a night in intensive care, you will move to your hospital room for a few days to a week. Your liver regrows within six to eight weeks. Recovery, including outpatient care, takes three to six weeks.

Temple Health’s Liver Transplant Edge  

At Temple Health, some of the nation’s foremost transplant surgeons and specialists assure exceptional care. They understand complex liver disease and conditions. Top-level care includes:

  • Skilled doctors – Your doctors have decades of successful liver transplant experience. Learn about your doctors.

  • Innovative care – Temple Health doctors apply the latest evidence-based breakthroughs to transplant care.  

  • Seamless support – Your team orchestrates everything. You have complete emotional, practical and medical support – from critical care while awaiting transplant through recovery.

  • Acute-care hospital – Temple University Hospital (TUH) is one of the region’s most respected academic medical centers. As Temple’s acute-care cornerstone, TUH ensures exceptional cross-specialty care. Learn about Temple University Hospital.

Ready for an Appointment?

Find a doctor near you, request an appointment, or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.