Liver Transplant

Liver Transplant

Among the Best Liver Transplant Outcomes in U.S.

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Liver transplant surgery may be in your future if you have liver failure due to chronic liver disease. An expert liver transplant program can ensure you live a long, productive life after your liver transplant. Duke's specialists work as a team to manage your care before, during, and long after your liver transplant surgery. Our efforts pay off. National data show that Duke's adult liver transplant program is ranked as one of the four best in the U.S. for getting a deceased-donor transplant faster and for 1-year liver survival.

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Choosing a Liver Transplant Program

Questions to Ask
When considering a liver transplant program, you want to know:

  • How fast do patients on the wait list receive a transplant?
  • What is the risk of dying while waiting for a liver transplant?
  • How well do your patients do following the liver transplant procedure?

Among the Best Liver Transplant Programs in the U.S.
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) tracks data for the nation’s transplant programs. When Duke’s liver program is compared with other programs, the registry finds Duke’s liver program achieves among the best outcomes in the nation.

Excellent Outcomes
We maintain excellent outcomes for our patients despite the fact that we place very sick patients on the liver transplant waitlist. Many have multiple medical problems and have been turned down by other centers. In fact, some of our largest referral sources are other transplant programs.

One-Year Liver Transplant Survival Rate (from Deceased Donors)

About Our Location
Liver transplant surgeries are performed at Duke University Hospital. Learn more about our location and plan your visit.

Shorter Waitlist Times Compared with Other U.S. Centers
Median time to transplant for patients on Duke’s waitlist was 116 days, compared with 341 days nationally.

Median Wait Time for Liver Transplant (in Days)

Source: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients Program-Specific Report July 2019

Opportunities for in HIV-Positive-to-HIV-Positive Liver Transplantation
A new protocol allows organs from HIV-positive donors to be considered eligible for transplant into people with liver failure who are also HIV-positive. This widens the pool of organs available to those who are HIV-positive and can significantly shorten the wait time for a liver transplant. Duke is one of 21 centers in the U.S. authorized to perform HIV-positive-to-HIV-positive liver transplants; in 2017 we performed the first such surgery in the Southeast.

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Before Your Liver Transplant

Extensive Evaluation

An extensive evaluation helps us determine whether liver transplantation is the best therapy for you. The process may take several days, depending on what tests or screenings you need. A transplant coordinator will help you plan your visit. Testing may include blood and tissue tests, a cardiac evaluation, and imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT, and MRI.

Liver Transplant Waitlist

If you are found to be a candidate for liver transplantation, you will be listed in the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Once you receive notification that a healthy liver is available, you will need to arrive at Duke within six hours. If you need to relocate to the Durham area, a transplant coordinator can assist you.

Preparing for Your Liver Transplant

All transplant candidates at Duke participate in transplant education classes, led by our transplant coordinators, to teach you and your caregivers about the transplant process, the medications you need to take, and the recovery process.

Your Caregivers Are Our Partners

We involve your designated caregivers (family members or friends) from the time of your first evaluation through your recovery. They attend your appointments and we educate them about their important role in your care after surgery. They are our partners in restoring your liver health, and overall health, as quickly as possible.

After Your Liver Transplant

Preventing Organ Rejection

Although organ rejection may occur following transplants, our personalized approach to anti-rejection treatment makes rejection uncommon. We provide you and your caregivers the resources and support you need to live a healthy life after transplantation. Our transplant coordinators are always available to answer your questions or address your concerns.

Why Choose Duke

Several factors contribute to our being among the nation's best liver transplant programs, based on ratings from the SRTR.

Your Medical Partner for Life
In addition to managing your liver disease, we work with specialists throughout Duke to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and mood disorders that may affect your health before, during, and after your liver transplant. Our pre- and post-transplant coordinators are with you every step of the way. We want you to enjoy your new liver for many years to come.

We Look for Every Opportunity to Get You a Liver
Our surgical team has the technical ability and resources to evaluate and procure organs that other institutions don’t have the expertise to use.

We Do Split-Liver Transplants
We’re one of the few liver transplant hospitals to divide a healthy liver from one donor between two patients -- typically an adult and a child. These split liver transplants allow us to save two lives rather than just one.

Experienced Transplant Surgeons
Each of our seasoned transplant surgeons has unparalleled training and expertise in liver transplant surgery. Many hold leadership positions in UNOS and other national transplant organizations. Our team has the collective experience to handle virtually every situation that arises.

Effective Strategies to Reduce Dangerous Infections
Our survival rates are high because our infectious disease experts work quickly to employ highly effective therapies when infections are identified.

Research to Improve Process
We participate in research that studies how to improve the liver transplant process. Right now, we are looking at ways to tailor immunosuppression medications to prevent rejection and limit side effects. We are also studying how to make more donor organs viable. This may one day increase the supply of livers available for transplantation.

Skilled in Multiple Organ Transplant
Often, our sickest patients are those who need more than one organ. Our team is skilled in addressing their unique needs and has experience in performing multi-organ transplants, including:

  • Liver-kidney
  • Liver-lung
  • Liver-heart
  • Liver-lung-heart
  • Liver-small bowel-pancreas
Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 10/13/2019