Liver Transplant Program

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. Choosing the right liver transplant program can help ensure you live a long, healthy life after surgery. National data rank Duke's adult liver transplant program among the best in the U.S. both for getting a deceased-donor transplant faster and for one-year liver survival. We offer comprehensive evaluation and care to people with liver disease -- including many who have been turned down by other centers -- and have performed more than 2,000 transplants since our program was established in 1984.

Ready for an Evaluation?

If you are interested in making an appointment for an evaluation, please ask the provider treating your liver disease to submit a referral.

Why Choose Duke

Nationally Ranked Liver Transplant Program
Our outcomes are among the best in the nation despite the fact that we place very sick people on the liver transplant waitlist. Many have multiple medical problems and have been turned down by other centers.  
 

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Shorter Wait Times for Liver Transplant Compared with Other U.S. Centers
Median time to transplant for patients on Duke’s waitlist was 85 days, compared with 240 days nationally.
 

Experienced Transplant Surgeons
The latest Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data show that Duke’s liver transplant surgeons are among the most experienced in the nation. Many hold leadership positions at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and other national transplant organizations. Our organ transplant experts have the collective experience to perform multi-organ transplants -- including heart-liver, liver-lung, and liver-small bowel-pancreas (multivisceral) -- and to handle virtually any situation that arises.

Dedicated Hospital Unit for Transplant Patients
Our solid organ transplant unit is dedicated to caring for people throughout their organ transplant journey, whether they are waiting for a transplant, recovering from surgery, or are returning to the hospital. The unit is staffed by a dedicated team of providers experienced in caring for people undergoing liver, kidney, small bowel, pancreas, or intestinal transplants. These include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, patient coordinators, and more. Patients and their families can establish relationships with our providers and staff and feel secure in the hospital environment.

Our Locations

Liver transplant surgery is performed at Duke University Hospital. Pre- and post-transplant appointments take place at our hepatology clinic in Durham.

More Livers Available to More People

Split Liver Transplants

Duke can divide a healthy liver from one deceased donor between two people. These split liver transplants allow us to save two lives rather than just one. 

Living-Donor Liver Transplants

According to the American Liver Foundation, thousands of people die each year while waiting for a donated liver to become available. Duke is experienced performing living-donor liver transplants, which may shorten your time on the waitlist and allow you to have surgery before your condition deteriorates. 

Preserving Donor Livers Longer

We have access to perfusion devices that keep donor livers viable much longer than the standard preservation process. These devices circulate warm, oxygenated blood, medications, and nutrients through the organ to preserve it and allow for testing before transplantation. It also means organs can travel farther to reach intended recipients.

People with Serious Medical Problems

We have the expertise to perform liver transplants on people who have had previous surgeries like heart valve replacement or with serious health conditions. Many of these people have been rejected by other transplant programs for conditions such as hypercoagulation (excessive blood clotting). In fact, some of our largest referral sources are other transplant centers. 

Opportunities for 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 22 centers in the U.S. authorized to perform HIV-positive-to-HIV-positive liver transplants with deceased donors (and one of five with living donors). In 2017 we performed the first such deceased-donor surgery in the Southeast.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Providing the Support You Need

Guiding You Through the Process

Our transplant coordinators are nurses specially trained in liver transplant care. They help you navigate the transplant process and are available to answer all your questions 24/7, from the initial evaluation through follow-up care. They also provide training and resources to prepare you and your family for transplant. Dedicated financial coordinators work with you one-on-one to help with the financial aspects of transplantation. 

Access to Duke Specialists

Receiving care at Duke means that you’ll have access to a wide range of experts, should you need them. In addition to liver and other medical specialists, you’ll also be connected with social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others who will tend to your mental and emotional needs. We can also put you in touch with former Duke liver transplant recipients who have volunteered to talk with people who are starting the process.

Research to Improve the Transplant Process

Our doctors are leaders in transplantation research on best practices and new therapies. We are looking for ways to improve the liver transplant process and to tailor immunosuppression drugs to prevent rejection and limit side effects. We also study how to make more donor organs viable. This may one day increase the supply of livers available for transplantation. As a patient at Duke, you may be eligible to participate in these and other clinical trials.

This page was medically reviewed on 06/08/2023 by