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Types of Liver Transplants

We tailor the specifics of the liver transplant process for your needs. Your care team will discuss the process in depth with you, answering any questions you or your caregiver may have.

Conventional liver transplant

A conventional liver transplant is a procedure in which you are given a healthy liver from someone who has just passed away. This is the most common type of liver transplant.

Why choose a conventional liver transplant?

When standard therapies are no longer working to treat liver cancer or liver failure, it may be time to consider a liver transplant. A conventional liver transplant can help you live a longer, healthier life.

What is the average wait time for a conventional liver transplant?

If we determine that liver transplantation is your best option, we add you to the waitlist maintained by UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing). Our specialists will discuss with you about how long you can expect to wait for a liver transplant.

The waiting time for a suitable donor varies for everyone. It is based on your:

  • MELD score (a measure of the severity of your illness)

  • Blood type

  • Geographic location


Split liver transplant

A surgeon splits a deceased donor's liver into two portions. You receive one portion of the liver, while another recipient gets the other portion. A child who needs a new liver commonly receives the smaller portion, while an adult gets the larger portion.

Because healthy liver tissue can regenerate, each section of the donor liver grows into a full-sized, fully functioning organ within a few months.

Why choose a split liver transplant?

Our skilled surgeons are experienced in performing split liver transplants. This surgery makes up 10% to 20% of the liver transplants we do at our transplant center.

Split liver transplant outcomes are similar to conventional liver transplants. This innovative procedure makes more organs available to people who need a liver transplant.

What is the average wait time for a split liver transplant?

Our specialists need a liver from a deceased donor to perform a split liver transplant. Many factors influence wait time that accelerate to the top of the list, but the average wait time for a liver from a deceased donor is 6 months – 2 years.

Living donor liver transplant

Living donor liver transplantation is a procedure where a living person gives you a portion of their liver. Often, the liver donor is a parent, friend or other loved one.

Since healthy liver tissue is regenerative, the donor and the recipient regrow a normal-size liver a few months following surgery.

Why choose a living donor liver transplant?

The number of people waiting for a liver exceeds available organs. A living donor transplant can help you receive a new liver without the long wait time.

Recipients who receive a living liver donation have slightly better outcomes and a longer survival rate following surgery than those who receive a liver from a deceased donor.

What is the average wait time for a living donor liver transplant?

The liver donor evaluation process moves as quickly or as slowly as the donor prefers, but our team can complete it in as few as two weeks.

Multi-organ transplant

In addition to your liver, you may have other organs failing. During a multi-organ transplant, our experienced surgeons replace multiple diseased organs. We offer liver-kidney and liver-heart multi-organ transplants.

Why choose a multi-organ transplant?

A multi-organ transplant may be the best option when both organs have irreversible damage. Our doctors treat complex diseases through multi-organ transplantation, shortening your recovery and wait time.

What is the average wait time for a multi-organ transplant?

Wait times are often shorter for multi-organ transplants.

Liver cancer transplant

People with liver cancer have more treatment options than ever before. A liver transplant can be a potentially curative treatment for liver cancer. Transplantation removes the whole liver, replacing it with a new, healthy liver from a deceased or living donor.

Why choose a liver cancer transplant?

We are one of few centers in the country offering liver transplants as a treatment option for people with certain types of liver cancer. We can often treat you when other centers can’t, including if you have larger tumors or more advanced liver cancer.

Our specialists help you decide if liver transplantation is the best treatment based on several factors, such as whether the cancer has spread and tumor size.

What is the wait time for a liver cancer transplant?

If you have liver cancer, the average wait time for a deceased donor liver is 9 to 12 months. While you are waiting for a liver, our team uses the latest treatments to shrink the tumor. Shrinking the tumor increases the success rate of liver transplant for cancer treatment.

What types of liver cancer transplants are offered?

We offers several liver transplant options to treat cancer. The options depend on which type of cancer you have.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer we treat with liver transplantation. If you have HCC, you see multiple specialists on the same day. Our team meets the day after your visit to develop a personalized treatment plan. 

You may be a candidate for a liver transplant if you meet UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) criteria for a liver transplant due to HCC. 

If the cancer is advanced, we may use treatments to shrink the tumor before transplant surgery. If the treatments are effective, your transplant success rate is typically similar to a patient with early cancer.

Liver transplant for cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)

We are one of the few transplant centers in the country with established cholangiocarcinoma treatment and transplant guidelines. If your doctor diagnoses cholangiocarcinoma before the cancer has spread beyond your liver, liver transplantation may be an option. Once you receive a liver transplant, the chance of cancer coming back in your liver is low.

Our specialists perform transplant surgery to treat two types of bile duct cancer:

  • Hilar cholangiocarcinoma: This cancer, also called Klatskin tumors, develops where the bile ducts divide in your liver. You may be eligible for liver transplantation if you show no evidence of disease outside your liver after chemotherapy and radiation. If you live far away, you receive chemotherapy closer to home before your transplant surgery.

  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancers: This cancer develops in the small bile duct branches in your liver. If the tumors are small and the cancer has not spread beyond your liver, you may be eligible for liver transplantation.


Liver transplant for epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE)

Less than two dozen cases of EHE are diagnosed each year. This rare cancer can affect any area of your body, commonly showing up in the liver, lungs or bone tissue. 

Our transplant team specializes in performing liver transplant surgery to treat EHE. If your doctor diagnoses EHE before the cancer has spread beyond your liver, liver transplantation may be an option.

Your doctor may recommend transplantation in combination with other advanced therapies, such as radioembolization or surgery, to effectively treat cancer. 

Liver transplant for metastatic colon cancer

We are one of the few transplant centers in the country that performs liver transplant surgery to treat cases of metastatic liver cancer once patients have exhausted other treatment options.

If you have limited cancer cells remaining in your liver (and no cancer elsewhere in your body), we may consider liver transplantation as a potentially curative treatment.

Liver transplant for neuroendocrine cancers 

Neuroendocrine cancer is a rare type of cancer than can develop in the liver. The tumors start in the endocrine system’s nerve and hormone-producing cells. Our team of specialists may use liver transplant as a treatment option for neuroendocrine cancer.

Hope After Liver Cancer

Cathy, diagnosed with rare liver cancer, needed a liver transplant to save her life. Dr. Chapman at BJH reassured her at every step of the transplant process.

Read Cathy’s Story
Liver Transplant Options News & Resources

Schedule your appointment

Call  (314) 362-9355  or  (800) 392-0936  for more information about our transplant services or to schedule an appointment.

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