You may have recently been told that you need or may need a liver transplant. Liver transplantation can provide a new chance for a longer, more active life for people who are battling liver disease.
Learning more about the procedure and the lifetime commitment involved can help you determine if transplantation is a good treatment option for you. The experienced team at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital will work with you as a partner in your care and will guide you every step of the way – from referral to surgery and beyond.
People have liver transplants for many reasons such as hepatitis, liver cancer, and other liver-related diseases. To determine if you are a transplant candidate, you will be evaluated by our highly trained team of doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians and financial counselors. If you are determined to be a candidate, you will be added to the waiting list according to your MELD score. The MELD score is determined by specific medical testing and laboratory criteria, and ultimately determines the urgency and order of your transplant need.
Once an organ becomes available, you will be called into the hospital for transplant surgery. During the surgery, the diseased liver is removed and replaced with the donor liver. This is called an orthotopic transplant. Your new liver will be placed where the old one was. The surgery usually lasts approximately four hours.
When the surgery is over, you will wake in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where a team of nurses and doctors will carefully monitor your progress. You may have drainage tubes in your nose and a catheter placed in your bladder for urine drainage. You will also have intravenous lines to give you hydrating fluids and oxygen to help you breathe. Over the next few days, these tubes and lines will be removed, and you can start eating food and getting out of bed to exercise. Eventually, you will be moved to a regular room for continued monitoring.
Depending on your progress, you can expect to go home in about one to three weeks. After you go home, you will be seen in our clinic within two to three weeks. You will have labs drawn twice weekly to check the status of your new liver. As you continue to progress, you will need to be seen much less frequently.