Liver Transplant Surgery
University of Utah Health's Liver Transplant Program offers patients and their families comprehensive treatments and care for diseases of the liver. As a leader in the region, our transplant surgeons and board-certified hepatologist have performed over 400 liver transplants.
The transplant program’s multidisciplinary approach provides patients access to a team of health care professionals who are experienced in all medical and surgical aspects of transplantation.
If you are interested in living organ donation, please learn more about our living liver donation program.
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Liver Transplant Surgery: What to Expect
Liver transplant evaluation is usually done on an outpatient basis unless you are critically ill and require hospitalization. In addition to meeting with members of the liver transplant team, during the evaluation you will have appointments with other specialists and undergo a number of pre-transplant tests. The pre-transplant tests, as well as giving a clear picture of the your overall health status, help in identifying potential problems before they occur. They also help in determining whether transplantation is truly the best option and will increase the likelihood of success.
After all of your information has been reviewed by the selection conference, the recommendations have been completed, it has been determined that you are an acceptable candidate, and we have received authorization from your insurance company and the hospital financial department, we can place you on the waiting list. If accepted as a transplant candidate, your name will be placed on the UNOS waitlist at University of Utah Health. There is an expectation that you will be followed by your specialist while awaiting your liver transplant.
Waiting times depend on your blood type, the severity of your illness, body size, and the number of donors available and are therefore difficult to predict. If you have questions regarding your waiting time once you are listed, please talk to your transplant coordinator.
While you wait for your transplant, you will carry a beeper or a cell phone. When a liver becomes available, a nurse coordinator will contact you and instruct you on next steps. You will be admitted to the hospital and the transplant staff will guide you in your preparation for surgery.
For living donors and recipients, the surgery can be planned.
The surgery can take from six to 12 hours, depending on the patient’s medical condition and previous surgeries. After surgery, the patient goes to the surgical intensive care unit (SICU), usually for 24 to 48 hours. The expected length of hospital stay for an uncomplicated liver transplant is seven days.
After transplant you will begin learning all about your new liver, how to take care of it, how to prevent infection, your medications, and your clinic and lab schedule. The coordinators, pharmacists, and nurses will teach you how to take care of yourself now that you have your new liver. You will receive a post transplant manual. THIS IS YOUR LIFE-LONG GUIDE. The transplant coordinator will come to your room to review the content of the manual, answer questions, and review your medications.
Patients will be seen as needed in the outpatient clinic. Communicating with the your primary care physician is an important part of the transition, and the liver transplant team is available to answer any questions that may arise.
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Health insurance coverage, contracts, and payment may be subject to changes beyond the control of University of Utah Health. The University of Utah Transplant Department will contact your insurance and verify that your insurance is contracted with our facility and providers.
If your insurance is not contracted, we will attempt a single-case-agreement for transplant services to be performed at the University of Utah. Ultimately the patient is responsible for payment related to all services.