Who Needs a Pediatric Liver Transplant?
Children need liver transplants because they have a disease or condition that has damaged the liver or caused it to work improperly. In rare cases, genetic diseases that do not cause liver injury but do harm other organs can be corrected with liver transplants. Some children require liver transplant in order to remove large tumors that can’t be removed without taking out the whole liver.
Children with these diseases or conditions may also need a liver transplant:
- Biliary atresia: a disease in which the bile ducts are obstructed, preventing bile from passing from the liver into the intestines. It's the most common reason children need a liver transplant. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is the leading center for biliary atresia care and referrals and is part of the Biliary Atresia Research Consortium (BARC).
- Alagille syndrome: a genetic disorder that often affects the liver (among other organs), causing the bile ducts to narrow or fail. CHOP is a world-renowned Alagille clinical care center.
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis: a disease in which the bile ducts narrow because of inflammation and scarring.
- Hepatoblastoma: a very rare cancerous tumor that can spread to other parts of the body. CHOP is one of the nation's leading pediatric oncology centers and has a multidisciplinary team experienced in treating children with hepatoblastoma.
- Acute liver failure: sudden loss of liver function that occurs when a large part of the liver is damaged, generally as the result of a virus or medication.
Some genetic disorders may also result in a liver transplant:
- Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency: a hereditary disease that can cause hepatitis and liver failure.
- Tyrosinemia: a genetic condition associated with severe liver disease in infants.
- Wilson disease: a hereditary disorder in which copper accumulates in the liver and nervous system, causing severe liver and other organ disease, which can be cured by liver transplant.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth B. Rand, MD
Date: October 2012