Reasons For Needing Liver Transplant
In adults, the most common reason for needing a liver transplant is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can be caused by many different types of diseases that destroy healthy liver cells and replace them with scar tissue. Some causes of cirrhosis are
- long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus
- drinking too much alcohol over time
- autoimmune liver diseases
- long-term infection with the hepatitis B virus
- the buildup of fat in the liver
- hereditary liver diseases
- Other reasons for needing a liver transplant include
- sudden liver failure, called acute liver failure, most often caused by taking too much
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- liver cancers that have not spread outside the liver
How will I know whether I need a liver transplant?
Your doctor will decide whether you need to go to a liver transplant center to be evaluated by a liver transplant team. The team will include liver transplant surgeons; liver specialists, called hepatologists; nurses; social workers; and other health care professionals. The transplant team will examine you and run blood tests, x rays, and other tests to help decide whether you would benefit from a transplant.
The transplant team will also check to see if
- your heart, lungs, kidneys, and immune system are strong enough for surgery
- you are mentally and emotionally ready to have a transplant
- you have family members or friends who can care for you before and after the transplant
Even if you are approved for a transplant, you may choose not to have it. To help you decide, the transplant team will explain the
- patient selection process
- operation and recovery
- long-term demands of living with a liver transplant, such as taking medicines for the rest of your life
During your evaluation, and while waiting for a transplant, you should take care of your health. Your doctor will tell you what you can do to stay strong while you wait for a new liver.