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Liver Transplant Waiting List- What you should know

What is a liver transplant?

The liver is the largest internal body organ. It weighs approximately 3 pounds. It is situated just below the right side of your belly. The liver is responsible for producing proteins and breaking down nutrients from food to provide energy to the body. A liver transplant is a surgical procedure to replace damaged liver with a healthy liver from a living person or a deceased donor. 

When is a Liver Transplant needed?

You might need a transplant when the body does not work the way it should. This is called liver failure. Liver failure can be an acute liver failure or chronic liver failure. 

The one that happens suddenly because of viral hepatitis, infection, drug-induced injury is called acute liver failure.

The one that happens over a period of time says months or years is called chronic liver failure. The reason could be cirrhosis, alcohol overuse, liver cancer, and other severe cause. 

Talking with the doctor about liver transplant:

The first step in a liver transplant is talking with your doctor if you really require a transplant. A liver transplant is the last treatment option when all other treatments have been ruled out. A liver transplant is not for every individual. You might not be healthy enough for surgery. You might be suffering from a health condition that can make a transplant unsuccessful. If your doctor thinks that a liver transplant is the best solution for you, then the doctor will refer you to a transplant center.  

Fortis hospital, Delhi has the most experienced and highly qualified team of expert surgeons who have extensive experience in patient care liver transplant outcomes. 

How to get selected for a liver transplant?

A liver transplant is recommended by your doctor when all other treatment options have been ruled out and your doctor declares you healthy enough to undergo the surgery. Your doctor will refer you to a transplant center. The transplant center conducts tests to determine whether you can get a transplant. Each transplant center has different rules on who can get a transplant. 

However, you may not have a liver transplant if:

  • You have a severe infection
  • Cancer has spread outside the liver
  • You have chronic heart or lung disease
  • You have serious drug and alcohol issues 

You and your caretakers also need to understand and follow the doctor’s instructions after the surgery including medications for the rest of the life. 

 The cost of liver transplants in India is approximately 50,000 USD. This is only one-fifth of the cost in the western world and hence India is more economical for medical tourists. 

The transplant team:

Your transplant team will help you at every step of the way, they include the following:

  • A transplant surgeon
  • An anesthesiologist
  • A liver specialist also called a hepatologist 
  • A social worker to discuss your support network of family and friends, financial needs, and employment
  • A financial counselor to act as a go-between you and your insurance company
  • A chemical dependency specialist to help if you have a history of drug abuse or alcohol
  • A psychiatrist to help you deal with anxiety and depression.
  • A transplant coordinator such as a nurse. 

Additionally, the transplant team will :

  • Find out if you have a support system of friends or family to look after you after the transplant. 
  • They will make sure if you’re mentally prepared for the transplant
  • They will review medical insurance and other financial resources. 

Visit a transplant center:

During you visit a transplant center, health professionals will provide you information regarding the following;

  • The waiting period
  • Surgery and recovery
  • The evaluation and approval process
  • Placement on the national waiting list
  • How people are selective for a liver transplant
  • Reasons for being removed from the national waiting list
  • The long-term demand from transplant such as medications for the rest of your lives. 

Tests required before getting a liver transplant:

Your team will enquire about your medical history and tests done before such as X-ray record, medications, liver biopsy slides for evaluation. The team might suggest some tests for a liver transplant which includes the following:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Imaging tests to take pictures of your liver. 
  • Ultrasound 
  • Tests are required to check the functioning of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. 
  • Echocardiogram to check your heart condition.  

The tests results determine the following:

  • The cause and severity of the liver disease
  • How likely you’re to survive transplant surgery
  • Other diseases and conditions you have 

Your team will scrutinize based on the above test if you’re fit for liver transplant surgery. Some medical conditions can make a body less likely to have a successful liver transplant. 

The working of Liver Transplant Waiting List:

If you’re approved for a liver transplant but do not have a matched donor, the center will put you on the waiting list. Before undergoing a liver transplant, patients are put on the waiting list by the transplant center depending on the health condition of the recipient. The list of patients is prepared on the basis of blood type, size of the body, and overall medical condition. Each recipient is given a priority score based on three blood tests namely creatinine, INR, and bilirubin. The score is known as the model of end-stage liver disease (MELD) in adults while in children it’s called pediatric end-stage liver disease (PELD). 

Patients with acute liver failure and top score get their name on top of the list. If their condition worsens then the priority for liver transplant goes up. Basically, the transplant is done on patients who need them the most. 

The waiting period list for a deceased donor liver transplant can range from less than 30 days to more than 5 years. The waiting duration depends on how worse is your overall situation, meaning your health condition.

It’s very hard to say how long you will have to wait to get on the priority list.

Where does the liver of a transplant come from?

You get a liver either from a living person or a deceased person. 

In a living donor, your doctor will remove part of the healthy liver from a living person and implant in you. Both livers will grow back to their normal size within a few weeks. 

A deceased donor is a person who is declared brain dead but the heart is alive. The donor is put in ICU. 

Who can be a liver transplant donor?

A living donor can be a family, spouse, relative, or stranger. They will have complete medical and psychological tests to keep risk as low as possible. An ideal donor is a person who is younger than 60 years. 

Liver transplant in India is more economical than in other western countries with the same quality of care and good outcome at a better price. 


You may choose to exit in between even if you get approved for a transplant. Around 88% of patients live for at least a year after the transplant while 73% live for at least 5 years. Fortis hospital Delhi, is considered to be the best hospital in India for a liver transplant.


AILBS - Advanced institute of liver and biliary sciences. Have a dedicated block for Liver transplant and GI Surgery, with highly professional staff to handle procedures as complex as Liver Transplant. Physicians, surgeons, and other health care professionals with the finest, state-of-the-art medical facilities all under one roof for quicker and accurate diagnosis! They one of the most sought-after teams of surgeons for Liver treatments in Southeast Asia and have one of the highest rates of success in liver transplants​.

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