Our specialists have performed over 3,000 liver transplants, helping restore patients’ liver function and health. This experience allows us to care for patients with complex liver conditions, such as end-stage liver disease and liver cancer. Together, we work to give you a longer, more comfortable life.
Washington University physicians deliver national leading transplant care at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Patients from across the U.S. come to us seeking our liver transplantation expertise.
With a long-standing history of excellence, our liver transplant program is one of the most experienced in the world.
We offer transplant surgery to patients with complex liver conditions often denied by other transplant centers.
When you to come to us for a liver transplant, you can expect:
- Experienced team: Our transplant specialists, including hepatologists (liver specialists), surgeons and clinical nurse specialists, are highly experienced in treating patients who need a liver transplant. We provide comprehensive patient care before, during and after a liver transplant.
- High volume: Our team has successfully performed more than 3,000 liver transplants. This high number means we deeply understand the unique needs of patients with all types of liver disease. Our experience ensures you receive the comprehensive, responsive and personalized care you need.
- Leading therapies: We offer patients access to clinical trials available at Washington University School of Medicine. Clinical trials are research studies that test promising new therapies and innovative treatments before they are available to the public.
- Convenient care: We offer outreach clinics for patients outside the St. Louis metro area. At the clinics, our doctors provide initial appointments and follow-up care for patients with liver failure. We also offer consultation to patients and referring physicians.
- Transplantation for liver cancer: Our team successfully manages advanced cases other centers consider too complex for liver transplantation. We are the region's only center providing liver transplants for eligible patients with certain liver and bile duct cancers.
- Multi-organ transplantation: Our transplant specialists can successfully treat patients needing multi-organ transplants such as liver-kidney and liver-heart.
- Patient and family support: You and your loved ones can access education, support groups, one-on-one psychological counseling and our Transplant Mentor Program. In this program, someone who has already had a transplant provides you with information, guidance and emotional support.
Cathy, diagnosed with rare liver cancer, needed a liver transplant to save her life. Dr. Chapman at Barnes-Jewish Hospital reassured her at every step of the transplant process.
When standard therapies are no longer working to manage end-stage liver disease, it may be time to consider a liver transplant. Our liver transplant team listens to your concerns and helps you to decide which transplant option is best for you.
We offer several liver transplant options:
During this procedure, we replace your diseased liver with a healthy liver from a deceased donor.
Surgeons split a single liver from a deceased donor into two portions. You receive one portion of the liver, and a second recipient gets the other.
Living donor transplantation is a procedure where a living person gives you a portion of their liver. Finding a living liver donor can shorten your wait time.
You may need several organs replaced during one surgery. We offer multi-organ transplants such as liver-kidney and liver-heart.
This transplantation removes the whole liver to cure liver cancer. We remove the diseased liver and replace it with a healthy one from a living or deceased donor.
When standard therapies are no longer working, we offer liver transplant options for children diagnosed with liver disease.
You stay in the hospital for seven to 10 days following liver transplant. After the surgery, our specialists prepare you for long-term post-transplant care. This team may include a:
In the first few weeks after the transplant, we see you frequently in our outpatient clinic, and you work with a physical therapist to regain your strength. If you live outside the St. Louis area, you can arrange temporary lodging near the hospital for the first few weeks of observation.
You meet with the liver transplant team several times in the year following your surgery. Typically, follow-up appointments include:
- The first two months: We do lab work twice weekly to check for rejection or infection.
- The first six months: We continue monitoring you with weekly lab work.
- The rest of the first year: After your 6-month visit, we see you at 9 and 12 months following the transplant. The frequency of lab work varies depending on your condition. Usually, you will have lab work once or twice a month until the end of the first year.
- Once per year afterward: We see you once per year for follow-up after the first year.
Organ transplantation requires life-long immunosuppressive medication. We help you understand your prescriptions and monitor you for side effects.
It is important to remember:
Anti-rejection medications suppress your immune system so your body doesn't reject the transplanted liver.
Because the medication suppresses your immune system, you are more prone to infection, especially during the first three to six months after transplant.
Our team helps you avoid and manage rejection by:
Discussing the signs and symptoms of rejection with you
Testing and routine clinic appointments
Treating rejection with additional medication to prevent complications
The risk of rejection decreases over time but can occur at any time. Follow your medication regimens and physician orders to prevent rejection. If you experience any unusual symptoms, call your transplant nurse coordinator immediately.