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Liver Transplant Program

The University of Illinois Transplant Liver Program was launched in 1985. From our extensive experience in liver transplantation, our institution has been one of leaders in the transplant community with a number of landmark achievements.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, over 17,000 individuals are on the waiting list throughout the nation. The waiting list for liver transplants is continually changing as the most severe patients are always being placed at the top of the list. While the average wait time with the UI Transplant Program for seriously ill patients is fairly short, patients with less severe liver disease may have a significant wait time. This is because the patients that are sicker have a more urgent need to receive a transplant.

Our surgeons perform living donor liver transplants in adults. This is a unique opportunity to provide our patients with organs more quickly. This highly demanding surgical procedure has been performed by only a small number of experts in the world. Our team of experts brought their expertise from Asia, Europe and the US. Furthermore, our surgeons provide experienced service in liver resection for benign and malignant tumors. 

At the UI Health Transplant Center, our longest functioning liver transplant recipient from a deceased donor is over 30 years.

What is Liver Transplant?

By the time one loses about 70% of the original functions of the liver, liver transplantation becomes necessary to save their life. Liver transplantation is a surgical procedure that places a healthy liver from another person (deceased or living) in your body. Transplantation is the ultimate treatment for end-stage liver disease and selected cases of liver cancers.

Who Can Receive a Liver Transplant?

Patients with end-stage liver disease and the following may be eligible for liver transplantation:

  • Cirrhosis due to Hepatitis B and C, autoimmune hepatitis, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH)
  • Alcoholic Cirrhosis
  • Cholestatic Liver Disease such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) or primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC)
  • Metabolic liver disease
  • Acute Liver Failure due to drug toxicity or virus
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Cholangiocarcinoma

How do I Get a Liver for Transplantation?

The liver can be donated from a deceased person. You can also receive a portion of the liver from a healthy family member (living related donor) or friend (living unrelated donor). This procedure is referred to as a living-donor transplantation. Your donor will not compromise their health by donating a portion of their liver. 

When Can You Receive a Transplant?

If you are fortunate enough to have a living donor, we will immediately begin the evaluation process for you and your donor. This process can take a few weeks to a month if you and your donor follow all the instructions promptly.  If the medical evaluation shows that you are a good candidate for a transplant but you don't have a donor, you will be put on the national transplant waiting list to receive a liver from a deceased donor.