Listing and Waiting for a Liver Transplant at Virtua
Once your evaluation is complete and the Virtua team determines you're eligible for a liver transplant, you'll be placed on a national waiting list managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization authorized by the federal government to maintain the database for all transplants in the United States.
How the Liver Waiting List Works
The wait time for a liver transplant has increased dramatically as the demand for livers greatly exceeds the supply. Because of the high risk of death for patients with end-stage liver disease while waiting for a transplant, UNOS has developed a scoring system.
The most important part of the score is the severity of your illness. This is measured by your Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score. Scores range from 6 to 40, with the most ill patients having the highest numbers. The MELD score is determined from three lab tests:
- Bilirubin: measures how effectively the liver makes bile
- INR: prothrombin time, which indicates the liver’s ability to produce clotting factors
- Creatinine: measures kidney function
- Sodium: an electrolyte in the blood that is a marker for significant liver disease
The presence of a liver tumor also is included in the score. Your score can change over time, if your health changes.
Other facts that can affect how long you wait for an organ include your blood type, body and organ size, and time spent on the waiting list. Ethnicity, gender, religion and financial status aren't part of the matching system.
When a Liver Becomes Available
When you're matched with a donor liver, a Virtua transplant nurse coordinator will call you and ask you to come immediately to Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. It's important that you and your support people are reachable at all times.
Listing at More Than One Center
Because the wait time for a liver can be long, UNOS allows patients to be listed at more than one center for a transplant. This is called multiple listing, and may increase your opportunities to receive an organ sooner.
You can be listed with both the Virtua Center for Organ Transplantation and any other hospital that provides transplant services. Please check with your insurance carrier to determine coverage of multiple listing evaluation services.
To learn more about multiple listing, download this brochure from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) or contact the Virtua liver transplant team.