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Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. You cannot live without a liver that works. If your liver fails, your doctor may put you on a waiting list for a liver transplant. Doctors do liver transplants when other treatment cannot keep a damaged liver working.
During a liver transplantation, the surgeon removes the diseased liver and replaces it with a healthy one. Most transplant livers come from a donor who has died. Sometimes there is a living donor. This is when a healthy person donates part of his or her liver for a specific patient.
The most common reason for a transplant in adults is cirrhosis. This is scarring of the liver, caused by injury or long-term disease. The most common reason in children is biliary atresia, a disease of the bile ducts.
If you have a transplant, you must take drugs the rest of your life to help keep your body from rejecting the new liver.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Getting a New Liver: Facts about Liver Transplants (American Society of Transplantation) - PDF
- Liver Transplant (American Liver Foundation)
- Liver Transplant (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
- Liver Transplant: Complications/Medications (Department of Veterans Affairs)
- Liver Transplant: Nutrition (Department of Veterans Affairs)
- About the Operation: Liver Transplant (United Network for Organ Sharing)
- Questions and Answers for Transplant Candidates about Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) and Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (PELD) (United Network for Organ Sharing) - PDF
- Living Donor Liver Transplantation (American Society of Transplantation) - PDF
- Liver transplant - slideshow (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
Statistics and Research
- The SRTR/OPTN Annual Data Report (Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Liver Transplantation (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Effect of a Combined Drug Approach on the Severity of Ischemia-Reperfusion...
- Article: Nomogram Prediction for Postoperative Mortality of Orthotopic Liver Transplantation.
- Article: Blood component requirements in liver transplantation: effect of 2 thromboelastometry-guided strategies...
- Liver Transplantation -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- American Liver Foundation
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (Health Resources and Services Administration)
- When Your Child Needs a Liver Transplant (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Liver transplant (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish