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Liver Transplant

When liver damage has progressed to liver failure, transplant is often your only life-saving option. A liver transplant is a surgical procedure that replaces your diseased liver with a healthy, donated liver.

The liver transplant program at Rush provides comprehensive services for adults with liver failure. These are the most common causes of liver failure:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Hepatitis, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B and autoimmune hepatitis
  • Liver cancer
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or fatty liver
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Liver transplant evaluation

One of your care team’s top priorities is to place you on a waiting list for a new liver as quickly as possible. To do this, Rush has a comprehensive liver transplant clinic. At the clinic, you will undergo a thorough liver transplant evaluation to determine if you are a good candidate for transplant.

The clinic makes it more convenient for you by minimizing the number of visits you need to make to Rush. It also helps your care team at Rush get you on the waitlist for a new liver more quickly.

Medical tests

During your evaluation you’ll have the following tests:

  • Bloodwork
  • CT scan of your abdomen
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram of your heart
  • Stress test of your heart

Liver transplant health care providers

You will also meet with the following care providers at Rush:

  • Pre-transplant nurse coordinator
  • Hepatologist
  • Transplant surgeon
  • Social worker
  • Pharmacist
  • Dietician
  • Financial coordinator

Getting on the wait list

  • After your evaluation, your care team at Rush will present your case to the liver transplant committee.
  • The scheduling coordinator may need to schedule you for additional screening tests.
  • If you are a good candidate, the transplant team will place you on a waiting list for a new liver.

Waiting for a liver

  • While you are waiting for a new liver, your care team at Rush will monitor you closely and help you stay as comfortable and healthy as possible.
  • Your new liver will come from a registered organ donor who has died.
  • Surgeons at Rush are available 24 hours a day to respond to offers of organs for you.
  • The liver transplant program at Rush has been active in local and national organ-sharing programs for nearly 30 years.

Liver transplant surgery

Once a donor liver is ready for you, your care team will immediately start prepping you for liver transplant surgery.

During the surgery

  • Your surgeon will remove your diseased liver.
  • Your surgeon will connect the new, healthy liver to blood vessels and bile ducts. Your new liver will then resume its normal tasks inside your body.

After the surgery

  • You will begin you will spend one to three days in the intensive care unit at Rush. This allows your care team to closely monitor you and evaluate if your new liver is working properly.
  • You will then move to a transplant floor at Rush to complete your hospital recovery.

Follow-up care

  • When you go home from the hospital, you will continue to have follow-up appointments with your transplant doctors for the rest of your life.

Split liver transplant

Transplant surgeons at Rush are also experienced in performing split liver transplants, in which one deceased donor's liver is used for two recipients. It is possible to live with only part of a functioning liver. This procedure helps more people receive the life-saving treatment they need, despite a shortage of livers available for transplantation.

Why choose Rush for liver transplant

  • Multidisciplinary specialists on the liver transplant team at Rush collaborate on every aspect of your care — before, during and after your transplant.
  • Your care team includes surgeons, hepatologists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, nurse coordinators, social workers, pharmacists and dietitians.
  • The liver transplant program at Rush is one of the most active programs of its kind in the U.S.
  • Your transplant team is committed to helping you through the social and emotional challenges liver transplant. At Rush, you have access to social workers, psychiatrists and a liver transplant support group.
  • Your hepatologist will take over your care after you have recovered from your transplant. Specialists in the hepatology program at Rush are leaders in their field. 
  • The liver cancer team at Rush brings together the skill and expertise of hepatologists, liver surgeons, interventional radiologists, abdominal radiology specialists, medical oncologists and liver nurses.
  • If you and your loved ones are traveling to Rush from out of town for transplant care, the liver transplant scheduling coordinator can connect you with affordable overnight accommodations.