Pediatric Liver Transplant

Pediatric Liver Transplant

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A liver transplant can help a child with severe liver disease live a normal, healthy life. That is our goal for your child. Our patients include children and small babies with serious and complex liver disease. We are your partners on this journey, from your child’s first evaluation through their recovery and their transition to living full, healthy, adult lives.

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A Lifesaving Option for Children with Serious Liver Disease

Our pediatric hepatologists are liver disease specialists who routinely treat children with biliary atresia, hepatoblastoma, autoimmune liver disease, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC), metabolic liver disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and other liver diseases. When serious, these diseases may require a liver transplant to replace a diseased liver with a healthy organ. 

Largest Regional Pediatric Liver Transplant Program
Duke is the largest pediatric liver transplant program in the North Carolina region. According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, a national database of transplant statistics, our one-year pediatric patient survival rates after liver transplantation exceed the national average.

We Accept Critically Ill Patients
We are the only program in North and South Carolina that accepts critically ill low-weight babies.

We Perform All Types of Liver Transplants
That includes whole, split, and reduced livers. We also offer living related and unrelated liver transplants, a process where living family members and other donors are evaluated to donate a portion of their liver. 

We Perform Multi-Organ Transplants
We are the only center in the region to perform multi-organ (liver, kidney, small intestine, and/or pancreas) transplants in children.

Access to the Latest Research and Treatments
As part of the Studies for Pediatric Liver Transplantation Network, we work with liver transplant experts around the nation. This gives us access to research and data and ensures your child receives the latest advances in transplant medicine, from surgery through recovery and the transition to adulthood.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Evaluation Process

Your child will be scheduled for evaluation within days of calling our transplant coordinator. Because this is a multi-day process, we can help coordinate your stay if you are traveling to the area.

Meet the Medical Team

During your child’s evaluation, you will meet with multiple specialists, including the pediatric hepatologist, transplant surgeon, and infectious disease specialist. You will also meet with our transplant coordinator, a financial counselor, a dietitian, and a social worker. 

Physical Exam and Tests

Your child will undergo a physical examination and several tests, including lab work, imaging (ultrasound, echo, etc.), and possibly a liver biopsy.  

The Wait List

Once your child has completed evaluation and the team has determined he or she is a candidate for liver transplant, they will be added to the national database maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). 

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Your Child’s Recovery

Post-Transplant

In general, your child will remain in the hospital for 10 to 14 days. You will need to stay close to the Durham area for one to three months for frequent follow-up visits to monitor your child’s recovery, check your child’s liver function, and manage medications.

Ongoing Support

When you are part of our program, you and your child will meet other families who have gone through similar experiences. Our doctors and providers are here to help you through every step of this process. We also provide ongoing behavioral health counseling to help you and your child cope with the stress of managing a chronic illness. We provide this ongoing support throughout your child’s recovery and beyond, as he or she transitions to adulthood.

Your Child’s Liver Transplant Team

A Team of Specialists
You and your child will work with a team of specialists that includes pediatric hepatologists and transplant surgeons.

Transplant Coordinators and Advanced Care Providers
Equally important are our transplant coordinators, who help you and your child navigate the transplant process, and our advanced care providers, who include a dietitian and specially trained nurses. The entire team is here to help you every step of the way -- answering your questions, providing medical counsel, and helping you understand what to expect.

Social Workers
Our social worker provides your child and your family with an an additional level of care and guidance when you experience emotional issues or need help managing financial concerns.

Hepatologists and Transplant Coordinators
Our pediatric hepatologists and transplant coordinators are on-call at all times for urgent needs that arise.

Best Children's Hospital in NC
In addition to being among the best in the country, Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.