Duke has Best Liver Transplant Outcomes in U.S.
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. At Duke, our team of specialists works together to manage your care before, during and long after your liver transplant surgery. Our efforts pay off. National data shows the Duke adult liver transplant outcomes are among the nation’s best.
One Year Liver Transplant Survival Rate
Choosing a Liver Transplant Program
When considering a liver transplant program, you’ll want to focus on these factors:
- 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?
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) tracks these and other data for the nation’s transplant programs. When comparing Duke’s liver program to the national average, the registry finds:
- Patients on Duke’s waitlist receive a liver at a rate almost three times the national average.
- Our patients are 50% more likely to survive while waiting for a transplant when compared to our expected outcomes.
- Duke’s liver program achieves the best outcomes in the nation.
Average Wait Time for Liver Transplant
Why Duke is One of the Best Liver Transplant Hospitals
Several factors contribute to our being one of the ten liver transplant programs with a five-bar rating from the SRTR.
- We are your medical partners 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 impact 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. Duke’s liver transplant team includes six surgeons and a surgical liver procurement specialist. We have 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.
- Our surgeons have performed thousands of liver transplants. 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 needed to handle virtually every situation that arises.
- We identify and reduce your risk of dangerous infections. Our survival rates are so high because our infectious disease experts work quickly to employ highly effective therapies when infections are identified.
- Research helps us do a better job for you. 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 organs viable. This may one day increase the supply of livers available for transplantation.
We maintain excellent outcomes for our patients despite the fact that we place very sick patients on the liver transplant wait list. Many have multiple medical problems and have been turned down by other centers. In fact, our largest referral sources are other transplant programs.
Often, our sickest patients are those who need more than one organ. Since 2010, our survival rate for patients who have received combined liver-kidney transplants is 100 percent. We are one of the few centers in the U.S. who do liver-lung transplants. We have also achieved excellent results performing liver-kidney, liver-lung-heart, and liver-small bowel-pancreas transplants.
Living Liver Donor Program Expands your Options
Our living donor program allows compatible family members and close friends to donate a portion of their healthy liver to adult and pediatric patients with end-stage liver disease, acute liver failure, or other serious liver disease. This option may decrease the time spent waiting for an organ to become available. Shorter wait times usually mean patients are likely to be healthier at the time of the transplant, which often results in a better liver health following the transplant.
The recipient’s new liver grows to normal size and is fully functional within two months. Our living donors undergo an extensive medical evaluation to determine if they are healthy and a suitable match for liver donation. This approach shortens wait times to transplant and improves outcomes.
For more information about becoming a living liver donor, please call 800-249-5864.
Before your Liver Transplant
An extensive evaluation determined 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. Check blood type and compatibility, assess kidney, liver and immune system function, and screen for viruses or infections that could affect your outcome.
- Liver biopsy. Involves the removal of a small amount of tissue from your liver to help diagnose the severity of your liver disease.
- Abdominal imaging tests. Doppler ultrasound, CT scan and MRI provide images of your liver and surrounding organs, blood vessels and lymph nodes.
If you are considered 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.
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.
We involve your designated caregivers (family members or friends) from the time of your first evaluation through 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
Although organ rejection may occur following transplants, our innovative strategies to prevent organ rejection and injury are a documented success. 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.
We offer support groups for all of our transplant patients to maximize their liver health. These sessions, led by social workers, give transplant patients and their loved ones a chance to meet with others for emotional support, to ask questions and share information about issues such as medications, nutrition and exercise.