If you are a candidate for liver transplantation, you will be listed in the national database maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS wait times are based on many factors, including blood type, the size of the donor’s liver, body size, geographical distance from the donor, and your MELD (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) score.
What Does My MELD Score Mean?
The score is based on blood tests that measure:
- Kidney function (creatinine)
- Liver function (bilirubin)
- Blood clotting time (international normalized ratio or INR)
- Sodium level
MELD scores range from 6 to 40; the higher the score, the greater your need for a liver and the higher your place on the waitlist. When a donor liver becomes available, it is offered to the sickest person on the list who matches the donor’s characteristics like body size and blood type and is geographically closest to the donor. If the liver is not a good match for that person, it is offered to the next person on the list until it is accepted.
Starting in July 2023, MELD 3.0 adds both current sex and albumin levels to the MELD score calculation. MELD 3.0 has been shown to better predict who needs a liver transplant first and addresses disparities between men and women.