Liver Transplant Process

At the Comprehensive Liver Disease & Transplant Center, patient education is a priority. With our guidance, patients and their families review and understand the complex liver transplant process, which is outlined below.

Liver Transplant Referral

You must be referred to become a liver transplant patient at the Comprehensive Liver Disease & Transplant Center. A referral can come from your physician, a hospital or yourself. Once we receive your referral, a transplant coordinator will contact you directly to discuss your information and review your records. Additional records may be requested if they’re not included in the referral.

Liver Transplant Evaluation

Once we have reviewed your records, we’ll reach out to coordinate with you and schedule a date for your liver transplant consultation. Evaluation can take several weeks to several months, depending on your health issues. The plan for your evaluation will be determined by your physician, surgeon and transplant coordinator and will be explained to you. Transplant evaluations include consultation with our liver transplant care team members, providers and staff.

Common testing that may occur throughout your evaluation process can include:

  • CT scans
  • Ultrasounds
  • Breathing tests
  • Laboratory testing
  • Arterial blood gas
  • Electrocardiograms (ECGs)
  • Stress tests
  • Echocardiograms
  • Chest X-rays
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGDs)
  • Colonoscopies
  • Cancer screenings

Outpatient consultations are scheduled at the TGH Transplant & Specialty Services office, conveniently located on Bayshore Boulevard in South Tampa, Florida.

Liver Transplant Medical Review Board

Once your evaluation and tests are complete, your information will be reviewed by our medical review board. This step is to determine whether you are a liver transplant waiting list candidate or if a medical management treatment track would be more appropriate for you. Your transplant coordinator will keep you informed. If your evaluation suggests a transplant is not your best option, or you choose not to have a transplant, the transplant team will contact you to discuss alternative treatments that will best suit you and your condition.

Liver Transplant Waitlist

If you are approved as a liver transplant candidate, you will be placed on the transplant waitlist. The waitlist system is maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing  (UNOS). Because there are more people who need a transplant than available donors, UNOS will score you based on how sick you are. This is called the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) system.

The MELD score estimates a patient’s chances of surviving their disease during the next three months. Organ allocation is determined by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Livers from deceased donors are allocated to the sickest patients first.

Other resources to reference include the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients data on liver transplants at Tampa General Hospital.

Liver Transplant Surgery

When a liver becomes available for your transplant surgery, you will receive a call from one of Tampa General Hospital’s transplant donor coordinators. This call can come at any time of the day or night. It’s important that you always answer your phone and that TGH has a way to reach you if you are at work or visiting with friends or family.

When you receive your call, the donor center coordinator will:

  • Review your health status
  • Help determine whether you should stop taking any of your medicines, including insulin
  • Remind you what to bring to the hospital
  • Provide instructions for coming to TGH and checking in
  • Provide you with an outline of the expected processes and updates on the liver transplant as they are made available

When you arrive at the hospital, a transplant coordinator will greet you in your room to discuss the liver transplant procedure and answer any questions.

Life After Transplant

After surgery, you will need to stay within a few hours’ drive of Tampa General Hospital for the next four to six weeks. If you live outside of this geographical radius, our social workers can assist you with finding appropriate housing. Tampa General Hospital’s Transplant Houses may be a viable option.

If you were very sick before your procedure was performed, you may be discharged to a local rehabilitation facility for a short time to help you regain physical strength before you return to your home or other lodgings. During the four- to six-week recovery period following your liver transplant surgery, you will make important, regular post-operation visits so our team can monitor your progress and note any signs of infection or organ rejection. These visits will also include clinic visits and lab testing, and the frequency will be determined by your liver transplant care team.