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Liver Transplant

The liver, the largest organ in your body, is located on your right side behind your rib cage. It has many functions including processing proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and breaking down toxic substances such as drugs and alcohol. The liver makes the chemical components that help your blood clot. If the liver fails, you lose the ability to clot blood and process nutrients needed for life.

The liver also excretes a yellow digestive juice called bile, which may accumulate if your liver is not functioning properly. Your eyes may become "jaundiced" or yellow or your skin may itch from the accumulated bile. Some medications help treat the symptoms of liver failure, but there are no drugs that "cure" liver failure. If your liver begins to fail, you may be eligible for a liver transplant that could involve a relatively new procedure called a "living donor" transplant.

Successful liver transplants can lead to a longer, more active life for people with end-stage liver disease. The liver, the largest organ in your body, is located behind your rib cage on the right side. It has many functions including processing proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and breaking down toxic substances such as drugs and alcohol. The liver makes the chemical components that help your blood clot. If the liver fails, you lose the ability to clot blood and process nutrients needed for life.

The liver also excretes a yellow digestive juice called bile, which may accumulate if your liver is not functioning properly. Your eyes may become "jaundiced" or yellow andyour skin may itch from the accumulated bile. Some medications help treat symptoms of liver failure, but there are no drugs that "cure" liver failure.

If your liver begins to fail, you may be eligible for a liver transplant. A liver transplant may not be recommended if you have an infection outside the liver, a medical condition that poses a problem or if you are an active substance abuser. More information is available by request on the medical center's policy regarding liver transplants for patients with alcoholic liver disease.

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Your surgery may last from four to 12 hours depending on your condition. Most patients who have had previous surgeries remain in surgery longer because of scar tissue accumulation. During surgery, your damaged liver and gallbladder will be removed and replaced with the donor liver. Your gallbladder is not required and won't be replaced.

See more information on living donor liver transplants.

If you are in or approaching end-stage liver disease and would like to learn more about whether a liver transplant is a good option for you, please call the UCSF Liver Transplant Program at (415) 353-1888.

Patients who live outside San Francisco may be evaluated in our California clinics located in Fort Bragg, Fresno, Modesto, San Jose and Santa Rosa as well as our clinic in Las Vegas. Initial appointments for these clinics are arranged through the Liver Transplant Program.

After surgery, you will go directly to the intensive care unit (ICU), usually for one or two days. Immediately after surgery, a breathing tube will be inserted to help you breathe. In most cases the tube can be removed within 24 hours after surgery. Many monitoring lines also will be attached; these, too, will be removed as you become more stable. When you are ready to leave the ICU, you will be cared for on the 14th floor of the hospital if you're an adult. Children are cared for on the sixth or seventh floor. Everyone recuperates from liver transplantation differently. Depending on your condition, you will be hospitalized for two to eight weeks following the transplant.

After the Hospital

After you are discharged from the hospital, you will be seen in the liver transplant clinic at least once a week for the first month. As you improve, you will be seen less often; eventually, you will be seen once a year.

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Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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Organ Transplant

Liver Transplant Program
400 Parnassus Ave., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-1888
Fax: (415) 353-8917
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