People facing a liver transplant often have questions about the process. The following is a list of some of the most common questions and their answers.

How successful is a liver transplantation?

Liver transplantation at Penn Medicine is very successful. Of 100 people transplanted, more than 90 are doing well one year after their surgery, and nearly 70 percent survive five years. Most people are able to return to their daily routine within three months after the transplant, and many of them even earlier. Transplant success depends on a number of variables, including health status at the time of transplant, age, incidence of postoperative infection and recurrent disease.

How long is the wait for a liver?

The waiting time for an organ has increased dramatically as the demand for livers far outweighs the supply. Because of the high risk of death for patients with end-stage liver disease while waiting on the list, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has developed a scoring system based on several factors, the most important is severity of illness. Other factors include blood type, the number of other patients listed within the local area and the region.

Can someone travel while on the transplant waiting list?

Many patients can travel safely. However, they are advised to ask their doctor and inform the transplant coordinator of their destination, contact address and phone numbers before they leave.

Is receiving a liver donated by a living friend or family member an option?

Yes, living liver donation is an option that can be discussed with your surgeon and hepatologist. Not all Transplant Centers offer this option. Penn Medicine has been performing living donor liver transplants for over 20 years. In the United States, more than 17,500 patients are on the waiting list to receive a liver transplant making the wait for a deceased donor liver very long for many people on the list. Due to a shortage of organs, at least 1,700 patients die each year waiting for a liver transplant. Living donation significantly decreases the time a patient has to wait for a liver on the wait list, and so can get them to transplant prior to getting very sick. Livers from living donors are usually of excellent quality because donors are carefully evaluated prior to donation and are only allowed to donate if they are in very good health. Learn more about living donor liver transplant.

How it works infographic: 40 to 64% of the healthy liver is transplanted

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