Deceased donor liver transplant: Tests when you arrive at the hospital

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You already learned that you could be called in for yo​ur transplant at any time of the day or night.

Read the content below to find out what to expect right before and after you have your surgery.

Because we do not know when a new liver will become available, you should be prepared to come to the hospital at any time.

Arriving at the hospital

We recommend that you pack a bag with the things you will need to bring to the hospital or at least have a list ready.

When you arrive at the hospital, go straight to the transplant unit. There, you will have a few tests, including:

  • a chest x-ray
  • abdominal ultrasound (if needed)
  • routine blood work and urine sampling.

Your transplant team will decide if any extra tests or opinions are needed before your surgery.

You are normally not allowed to eat or drink anything from the time you get the phone call until after you have your transplant.

Am I guaranteed a transplant when I arrive at the hospital?

Sometimes you are called to come to the hospital but will not receive a liver transplant. We understand that this can be very disappointing.

Sometimes you may not get a liver because some tests might show that the available liver is not the best one for you.

Another reason may be that you are sick with a bad cold and a transplant would not be the best thing for you at this time.

Occasionally, there may be a very sick patient in another hospital that suddenly needs an urgent transplant. The liver would be given to this patient.

Very occasionally, teens do not get a transplant because they are called in as a reserve (back-up) for a person who is above them on the wait list. If the liver is not a match for that person, you would be next in line to get it. However, if it is a match for them, you would need to go home and wait to be called back to the hospital another day.

The transplant team needs to act very quickly when a liver becomes available. This sometimes does not leave enough time to complete the usual detailed check of the available liver before you are called to go to the hospital. And, of course, the team cannot check if you are ready for a liver until you arrive at the hospital and complete all the final assessment tests.

It may be discouraging to be admitted to the hospital and then leave without a transplant, but we hope that you will get another call soon. Even being called in once means that you are high on the wait list.

Last updated: November 30th 2017