Your child will need to go through an evaluation process before he or she is placed on the transplant waiting list. This is an opportunity for you and your child to learn more about liver transplantation and to meet the liver transplant team. It helps the team determine if a liver transplant is the best option for your child. The evaluation process also helps assess your child's general health, including heart, lung and kidney function, his or her nutrition, and presence of infection.
The pre-transplant evaluation, which is coordinated through the transplant office, is usually done on an outpatient basis over several days. You will be asked to sign a consent form to begin the process to show that you understand the purpose of the evaluation and what is involved. The process begins with a review of your child's medical and surgical history and an office visit with the hepatologist (a physician who specializes in liver diseases) and transplant surgeon. Your child will have specific blood tests, and his or her doctor may schedule other tests (such as an abdominal ultrasound) as part of the evaluation process. We may also request an echocardiogram and an EKG.
You will also meet, as a family, with the liver transplant team, including the hepatologist, transplant surgeon(s), nurse coordinator(s), anesthesiologist, transplant social worker, pharmacist, dietician, and financial counselor. The team will discuss the evaluation results with you and explain the surgery, donor options and post-transplant care. This is a good time to ask any questions you may have.
The transplant team will consider all the information gathered from the meeting, your child's medical history, physical examination and diagnostic tests in determining whether your child is a good liver transplant candidate.
If the team determines a liver transplant is appropriate for your child, you will be asked to sign a consent form so that he or she can be placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. The transplant team will also send you a letter to let you know your child has been placed on the list.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth B. Rand, MD
Date: November 2012