Treatments & Procedures
At the Sherrie and Alan Conover Center for Liver Disease & Transplantation, our expert team will begin by conducting a detailed evaluation and assessment to give an accurate picture of the severity of your condition and your fitness for surgery.
During the evaluation, you will meet with a financial specialist, a social worker and, possibly, a dietician. In addition, a transplant surgeon and a hepatologist will discuss the surgical procedure with you and let you know what to expect after surgery.
After meeting with the transplant team, you will be required to complete a full medical evaluation that includes blood work, imaging studies and cardiac testing. Following your evaluation, your results will be reviewed and presented to our patient selection committee. This committee is comprised of medical specialists, nurses, financial specialists and social workers who review your results.
Following this meeting, your transplant coordinator will contact you with the committee’s decision of whether or not to accept you as a participant in the transplant program. If you are accepted, you will be placed on the national registry, known as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS ensures that all patients in need of a transplant are given fair access to donor organs.
Liver patients are prioritized on the UNOS waiting list by the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score (MELD), which measures the severity of your illness. The higher your MELD score, the more severe your condition and the closer you are to receiving a donor organ. Your MELD score is calculated during your evaluation and will be reassessed at various times while you remain on the waiting list.
During the waiting period
Once you are on the list, you will be seen in the transplant clinic frequently for labs and follow-up appointments. You will also need to undergo updated cardiac testing and imaging of your liver to assure you remain healthy enough for your transplant. During the waiting period, you and your caregivers are encouraged to attend our ongoing education classes. These classes are offered at our transplant clinics, online and via teleconference.
You must be ready to receive a transplant as soon as you are placed on the waiting list. When a suitable donor liver becomes available, the transplant needs to take place as soon as possible. When you get the call that an organ is available to you, you will need to arrive at the hospital immediately. To assure you are prepared, you must have reliable transportation at all times, have a bag packed and have all of your medications ready to go at any time.
The Liver Transplant Surgery
Before your transplant, your physician will talk with you and explain what will occur during the surgery. You will be given general anesthesia so you will be asleep during the procedure.
You will be in the operating room for about six hours.
After Liver Transplant Surgery
After surgery, you will be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) so the team can monitor your recovery. Once you are able to get out of bed and walk, you will be transferred out of the ICU to the transplant floor to prepare for your discharge. The transplant team will work with you to control any pain that you may experience.
Depending on how quickly you recover, you may be allowed to go home one to two weeks after your surgery.
Going Home and Staying Healthy
During the first few weeks of recovery at home, your daily activities will have some limitations including driving restrictions and not lifting anything more than 10 pounds.
You may be able to return to most normal activities within a few months after your surgery. The transplant team will monitor your progress closely during recovery, so you must be available for frequent clinic visits and lab tests. You will also be asked to attend our transplant patient education classes; in these sessions, you will learn how to care for your new organ as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle.
To read more detailed information about what to expect regarding the general transplant process and what issues you will need to address once you return home after your transplant, click here.
Perhaps the best way to learn about our highly trained liver transplant specialists at Houston Methodist is through our patients. Link to their inspiring stories below to learn more about the experience of being a patient at Houston Methodist.
- Laura Criel found herself fighting to stay alive at age 23 when she received not one liver transplant but two - the second saved her life.
- Kande Fogle is now cancer free after receiving a life-saving liver transplant.
- Tyrone Ivory now lives a life that does not revolve around sickness after receiving a heart-liver transplant.
- Beverly Lanier is thankful for the treatment she received at Houston Methodist after undergoing a liver transplant to survive cancer.
Our physicians specialize in liver transplantation at the following locations.
Our physicians conduct pre and posttransplant evaluations at the following convenient locations.