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Doctors use liver transplant to treat children with severe liver disease. Transplant provides excellent outcomes for liver failure and chronic liver diseases such as biliary atresia and fulminant hepatic failure. The procedure is typically very successful and offers hope to children with severe conditions of the liver. Sometimes, a child may be placed on the liver transplant list if they have an inherited metabolic condition such as Wilson's disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency or a urea cycle defect.
The transplant surgeons with IU Health Transplant at Riley Children's Health carefully consider if a liver transplant will improve your child's quality of life before placing him or her on the liver transplant list. Your child’s doctor will perform an extensive medical evaluation to ensure liver transplant is the best treatment option. This evaluation includes:
If the medical evaluation shows liver transplant to be the best treatment option, your child will be placed on the liver transplant list. This list contains the name, weight and blood type for all patients who need a transplant in a particular region of the country. Every patient is listed by his or her size and pediatric end-stage liver disease (PELD) score. Size is important because the new liver must match your child's size. The PELD score is based on levels of bilirubin and albumin in the blood, your child’s age and other factors of liver function. A higher PELD score suggests worse liver function and gives a patient a higher priority on the list.
When a potential donor becomes available, the local and national organizations for organ sharing are informed. A computer then prints up a list of patients who are the most sick (using PELD scores) and matches the blood type and size of the donor. The new liver must fit into the body in the same way as the diseased liver so that blood vessels can be more easily connected. The person on the top of the list—if that person remains a good candidate—is called in for the transplant.
Waiting for a donated organ to become available can be stressful. IU Health Transplant at Riley Children's Health is home to a short waiting list, which means patients often receive a new liver within a few months. While your child is waiting for a donated liver, your family will meet with the liver transplant team to learn about every aspect of the transplant process. The team will:
When a liver that is a match for your child becomes available, you will be notified to come to the hospital right away. Donated livers work best if transplanted within 12 hours.
Our liver transplant team includes pediatric specialists in transplant, surgery, gastroenterology, hepatology, radiology, pathology and social work. If needed, oncologists and metabolism doctors are also available. Your child's transplant team also will include a transplant coordinator and a dietitian.
You can expect the following on the day of your child’s liver transplant operation:
You can expect the following immediately after surgery:
Below are some additional guidelines for when you return home:
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
705 Riley Hospital Dr
Indianapolis, IN 46032