Liver Transplant Process

At Henry Ford, we know that undergoing a liver transplant is stressful. We pair you with a transplant coordinator who serves as your go-to resource for questions and concerns. This nurse remains with you through every step.

Receiving a liver from a living donor

Because the liver can regenerate, it is possible to receive a portion of a liver from a living donor. This person may be a relative, spouse, friend or even a stranger.

We have the most active living donor liver transplant program in Michigan. Our robust living liver donor program means a shorter transplant wait time for you, increasing your chance of a successful transplant.

Learn more about living donor liver transplants.

Waiting for a liver transplant

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) manages the waitlist for transplant recipients. UNOS matches organ donors and recipients throughout the Midwest and the country. Your transplant coordinator will place you on this list and contact you when a donor liver is available.

Factors affecting your liver transplant wait

The length of your wait for a donor liver depends on a number of factors, including your:

  • Health
  • Blood type
  • Body size
  • Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score

Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score

UNOS uses MELD scores to prioritize patients waiting for liver transplants. MELD scores range from 6 (less ill) to 40 (gravely ill). Because MELD scores fluctuate, you will need to periodically undergo blood tests while waiting for your transplant.

MELD scores are based on your laboratory values for:

  • Creatinine
  • Bilirubin
  • INR (the international normalized ratio for prothrombin time)

Receiving a liver transplant

You can expect certain steps during the liver transplant process:

  • After surgery, you recover in a specialized transplant recovery unit. This unit has filtered air to prevent infection and is staffed by a medical team with advanced training in transplant care.
  • The length of your hospital stay depends on the complexity of your surgery and your health.
  • While in the hospital, you meet with a specialized transplant pharmacist and start taking transplant medications. You need to take immunosuppressants for life to prevent your body from rejecting the donated liver.
  • After you leave the hospital, you may choose to receive follow-up care, including ongoing blood work and exams, at one of our convenient liver transplant clinics.

Check out our liver transplant outcomes.

Resources for transplant patients and caregivers

Our caring staff at guest services is here to help you and your loved ones with travel arrangements, lodging and other services. Learn more about our resources.

Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant Institute specialist.