Most liver transplant recipients are in end-stage liver disease, and with a liver transplant, life expectancy can be increased dramatically. More than 5,000 people in the United States benefit from a liver transplant each year. For individuals who are waiting for a new liver, it’s important to understanding the factors that lead to long-term survival and the criteria for transplant eligibility.
There are more than 17,000 people on the waiting list for a new liver, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The Model for Liver End-Stage Disease (MELD) scoring system is one way to determine who receives a liver transplant. Other factors include blood type and the presence of disease beyond the liver.
A new liver is a gift that needs to be cared for, so a potential recipient’s lifestyle may also be considered. To be a candidate for a life-saving liver transplant, the patient must abstain from alcohol and drugs, as well as be both physically and emotionally capable of undergoing a difficult surgery and the complex schedule of medications that will follow liver transplant surgery. A patient doesn’t need to endure these challenges alone. Most health systems that provide liver transplant surgery also provide guidance for their patients. Liver transplantation at Allegheny General Hospital is conducted by a multidisciplinary team that provides preparatory and follow-up care.
While transplant surgery is difficult, liver transplant life expectancy for the first year is 87 percent and the 5-year survival rate is 73 percent. As surgeons and researchers develop more advanced transplant techniques, liver transplant life expectancy will increase.
If you would like to learn more about liver transplantation, you can read The Liver Transplant List.