Evaluation for Liver Transplant | Transplant | Loyola Medicine

Evaluation for Liver Transplant

Comprehensive Evaluation and Care for Potential Liver Transplant Recipients

Loyola Medicine provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for patients with liver failure whose best medical option is a liver transplant. During your evaluation for liver transplant, Loyola’s expert transplant team will provide compassionate care and the most advanced treatment options available.

Why Choose Loyola for Liver Transplant?

Loyola is known for taking on the most challenging cases. If you’ve been turned down by another transplant center, consider getting a second opinion at Loyola. Our Transplant Center has the medical expertise and technological resources to care for the most difficult conditions, whether you need a liver or a multi-organ transplant. 

Loyola’s liver program provides a full range of services for patients with liver disease. Your team will explore a multitude of options to alleviate your symptoms and improve the health of your liver. If medical treatment options have failed, your Loyola hepatologist may recommend a liver transplant as the best medical option for your health. 

Transplant patients come to Loyola because our hepatologists and transplant surgeons are experts in their field. Loyola’s patient- and graft-survival rates exceed national standards at the one- and three-month benchmarks.

While you wait for a liver, you may face other health challenges related to your condition. Loyola’s subspecialists provide expertise in a wide range of health conditions, and your transplant team will facilitate a referral to an appropriate specialist if needed.

As a world-class academic medical center, Loyola’s doctors perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and leading-edge medical care for liver transplant. Our skilled and compassionate nurse coordinators work closely with transplant patients, providing support and answering your questions—not only before surgery but afterward as well.

Loyola understands that receiving care close to home makes life easier, which is why we provide care in convenient locations across Chicago and the suburbs.

What to Expect During Liver Transplant Evaluation

If your Loyola hepatologist has told you that your best medical option is a liver transplant, we understand that you will have many questions. A liver transplant evaluation is extensive. First you will attend an educational class to give you an overview of the process. The evaluation requires many tests to determine your need and may be individualized for each person. Loyola’s transplant team will guide you through the process, informing you of test results and next steps.

Depending on your condition, your Loyola doctor may request these tests, among others:

  • Arterial blood gas test
  • Blood count test
  • Blood clotting test
  • Blood tests for transmissible diseases
  • Blood type test
  • Bone density test
  • Cancer screenings
  • Cardiac angiogram
  • Chest X-rays
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • Dental exam
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Endoscopy
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Liver angiogram
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver Doppler ultrasound
  • Panorex dental X-rays
  • Pulmonary function test (PFT)
  • Stress test
  • Tissue typing tests

Your test results will help determine your MELD score (model for end-stage liver disease), which is used to determine how urgently a patient needs a liver transplant within the next three months. This score, along with body size and blood/tissue types, is used to decide how donated livers are distributed.

Some conditions may be barriers to being eligible for transplant and include but are not limited to:

  • Active alcohol or substance abuse problems
  • Certain cancers
  • Inability to comply with treatment, such as following a strict immunosuppressive drug regimen
  • Lack of social and financial support
  • Obesity
  • Severe heart or vascular disease

Once the results of your tests are in, you will meet with your entire medical team, which includes your hepatologist, your surgeon, your nurse coordinators, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, social workers, psychologists, clinical pharmacists, dietitians, and financial coordinators will meet to discuss your case. The Medical Review Board will decide whether you are a good candidate for a liver transplant. 

If the board approves you for transplant, you will be placed on the national waiting list with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for a donor organ. Your place on the waiting list will depend largely on your MELD score.

Having a living donor can reduce your wait time. This person could be a friend or relative, or even someone you don’t know, called an altruistic donor. If you are considering making a partial liver donation, find out more about Loyola’s living liver donor program.

Waiting for a donor can be a stressful time, especially because the wait time is unknown. We encourage you to participate in our support group, which will help you cope during this time. Your nurse coordinators and hepatologist will work closely with you to make sure you are thoroughly prepared for every step in the process.

You will continue any current treatments to prevent complications and should follow your individualized care plan and dietary guidelines. Your team will instruct you on all aspects of your upcoming surgery, recovery and life as an organ recipient. It is extremely important during this time that you keep your scheduled appointments with your medical team and keep them informed of any changes in address, insurance, phone number or vacation plans. Your transplant team must be able to reach you within a moment’s notice if your donor liver becomes available. 

To learn more, read our liver transplant frequently asked questions or call us at 708-327-4TXP/708-327-4897.