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liver transplant

overview

The liver is a large organ in the abdomen that cleans and purifies blood from the digestive tract. It also helps detoxify the body and produces bile, which is needed to digest fats. If your liver stops working, your health – and quality of life – can deteriorate to the point that you need a transplant. 

During a liver transplant, surgeons remove the damaged liver and replace it with a healthy one. It is usually from a recently deceased donor, but you can also receive a portion of a liver from a living donor.

why Aurora?

When you’re referred to the Liver Transplant Program at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, you’ll receive compassionate, coordinated care every step of the way.

evaluation

  • Your transplant coordinator at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center will call you to discuss the transplant process and answer your questions. 
  • Your transplant clinic team will perform diagnostic tests to make sure you’re healthy enough for a transplant. We’ll also talk with you and your family so you’ll understand how transplantation will affect your life.
  • Our selection committee will decide whether transplantation is the best option for you. If so, you’ll be registered with the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national computerized list that matches transplant recipients with available organs.

before your transplant

You’ll meet regularly with your transplant team so we can keep you as healthy as possible while you await transplantation. Your transplant physician and transplant nurse coordinator will monitor you closely during the waiting period. The wait for a matching liver can range from a few days to a few years. We know waiting for an organ transplant is difficult, so we’ll provide both emotional and medical support.

what to expect

During your transplant surgery, you’ll have anesthesia so you won’t feel any pain. Your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen, remove your old liver and insert the donor organ, attaching it to other organs and blood vessels in your body.

recovery

You’ll stay in one of our specialized intensive care units at Aurora St. Luke’s as you recover. Your transplant team will monitor you closely for signs of infection, rejection and medication side effects. You may start physical therapy, too. 

When you’re well enough, you’ll go home. We’ll work closely with you on your home care and rehabilitation, and you’ll visit our transplant clinic regularly so we can make sure you’re recovering well. You may have blood tests, radiological studies or biopsies during your visits. You’ll also get ongoing education and support. (If you live far away, you can have blood and lab work done through your primary care physician and sent to Aurora St. Luke’s.)

 Your doctors will fine-tune your immunosuppressive medications as you recover. You’ll need to take them for the rest of your life to keep your body from rejecting your new liver. 

 Within a few months, you should feel strong enough to go back to work and daily activities.

living donor transplant

Between Brothers
Why choose Aurora? Watch Joe and his brother-in-law share their story about the kidney transplant process at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.

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