Do You Need a Liver Transplant?
Liver disease can seriously damage your organ. Sometimes lifestyle changes, like a different diet, or treatments, like medications, can prevent further damage. Your doctor may recommend a liver transplant, though, if these treatments do not stop your liver from failing.
Our liver transplant specialists work jointly with experts from our nationally renowned Liver Disease Center. Our combined team works with you to determine if a transplant is your best option.
Liver disease symptoms
When you have liver disease, your body has a hard time ridding itself of toxins and breaking down food. You may experience:
- Abdominal pain
- Itchy or yellow skin (jaundice)
Liver failure causes
Liver failure can threaten your life but usually takes years to develop. Common causes of liver failure include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Bile duct cancer
- Liver cancer
- Fatty liver disease
- Autoimmune liver disease, such as Wilson’s disease and autoimmune hepatitis
Screening for liver transplant surgery
You must complete several medical tests to determine if you are eligible for a liver transplant:
- Physical exam
- Blood tests for liver enzymes, liver function, diabetes, cholesterol and HIV
- Blood and tissue typing
- Heart tests, such as echocardiogram (ECG), electrocardiogram (EKG) and stress test
- Imaging tests, including chest X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Liver biopsy
- Lung function test
Additional liver transplant requirements
Before you can continue the liver transplant process, you must also meet certain criteria:
- Complete a mental health assessment: A mental health screening detects potential issues that could interfere with your transplant surgery and recovery.
- Remain drug- and alcohol-free: You must abstain from alcohol, tobacco and prohibited drugs for at least 6 consecutive months before you receive a transplant. You should not use these substances after your transplant, either. Henry Ford provides addiction treatment and tobacco treatment services for those who need it.
- Establish a support system: You need a dependable group of caregivers who can provide help during your recovery.