214-456-8600 - Liver or Kidney
214-456-2333 - Heart
At Children’s Health, we have deep expertise in children’s liver transplant, a surgery that can cure or reduce symptoms of many liver diseases. All of our transplant surgeons and physicians are pediatric specialists who provide personalized, caring treatment for your child, with exceptional health outcomes.
214-456-8600 - Liver or Kidney
214-456-2333 - Heart
A liver transplant is an operation that replaces a liver that’s not working properly with a healthy liver from a donor. A transplant can be the best option for children with serious liver disease or liver damage.
Our team makes liver transplants available to more patients by using all liver transplant techniques, including:
Pediatric liver transplantation gives a child with liver disease the potential to live a long, active life.
Newer medical technologies make it possible for more people to benefit from a transplant, with fewer side effects. For some diseases, such as genetic and metabolic diseases, a liver transplant can cure the disease.
Most children don’t have significant side effects after a liver transplant. As with any transplant, there is the possibility of organ rejection. Your child’s immune system naturally seeks to fight off foreign matter, such as a donor liver.
Your child will need to take immunosuppressive therapies to help prevent their immune system from attacking the new organ. Our team will customize your child's medications. Over time, we reduce the immunosuppression and stop some medications.
Every surgery, including children’s liver transplant surgery, has a risk of complications. While we work very hard to keep your child healthy following a transplant, some children experience:
Children’s Health℠ has performed more than 570 liver transplants since 1984 – giving us a level of expertise that ranks with the nation’s leading programs. Our pediatric liver transplant program achieves outcomes that consistently meet or exceed the national averages.
No single hospital decides who receives a liver transplant or when. Each organ recipient is placed on a national transplant waiting list in order of their need. When a good match becomes available, we offer your child a liver transplant.
To place your child on the liver transplant waiting list, we do a complete transplant evaluation. During this process, your pre-transplant coordinator guides your family each step of the way.
The evaluation takes about two full days. We thoroughly study your child’s health, and your child might need one or more tests, such as:
We then list your child on the national liver transplant waiting list. Based on the test results and the urgency of your child’s condition, the wait may be a few days, or it could be years. We see your child in regular office visits to keep them as healthy as possible while waiting for a liver transplant.
If your child has a living donor who can donate a partial liver, the wait will be shorter. A living donor donates part of their liver, which grows to full size in both the child and the donor. Learn more about organ donation.
When a liver becomes available for your child, we’ll call you to come to the hospital. You usually have about six to eight hours’ notice. If you live far away, we create a transportation plan ahead of time.
When you arrive, your child will have a few more tests and some final blood work to ensure that your child is ready for the operation. Then your child will go into surgery for the transplant.
The procedure typically takes up to six hours. We’ll update you during the surgery to let you know how it is going. At Children’s Health, a small, dedicated team performs all liver transplant surgeries, with specialized operating room nurses and liver transplant anesthesiologists. This team’s expertise makes a big difference in our patients’ positive outcomes.
Right after transplant surgery, we take your child to our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). In the PICU, our specialized care teams provide a very high level of care while your child begins to recover. We use techniques that enable more children to get extubated (have their breathing tube removed) at the end of surgery, so they aren’t on a ventilator in the PICU. The result is shorter PICU stays – often about two days.
Later, your child moves to a special unit where liver specialists care for your child. Most children stay in the hospital for another week or two as they regain their strength. During this time, your child’s health care team will help your family understand your child’s new medicines and activities.
You should be able to stay with your child in the PICU and on the transplant floor. Siblings can visit, too, depending on age restrictions. Please check our current visiting hours and policies for up-to-date information. You’ll also get to know your child’s transplant coordinator, who will be available to support you long after the transplant.
After a pediatric liver transplant, each child has a different experience. All children will need specialized care from transplant specialists throughout their life.
You are your child’s best advocate and are a vitally important person in their care team. You can support your child’s wellbeing by:
It’s very important to stay alert to signs of liver problems [LW2] or infection. If you see these signs, contact your child’s medical team right away:
Before choosing a pediatric liver transplant team, you may want to ask:
Our transplant program offers liver transplants to treat all types of diagnoses that can cause liver failure. The hundreds of specific liver diseases that we treat include:
The Children’s Health Liver Transplant Program provides a full range of services for children who need liver or other organ transplants. We:
We offer transplantation for children from birth to age 18.
The time to receive a new liver depends on your child’s liver condition, their blood type and how urgently they need a new liver. Your child’s doctor can give you an estimate of the approximate wait time, but we can’t predict when your child will receive a match.
We often help families who live outside the Dallas area. We work with your schedule and your child’s urgency to create a plan that works.Our social worker can help your family find nearby lodging during the evaluation or following the transplant. If you live far away, you may need to stay in the area for six to eight weeks after the transplant. Staying nearby makes it easier to bring your child to their follow-up care.
In the hospital, further information is available at the Patient Family Resources Center in the lobby of Tower D and at the Krissi Hollman Family Resource Library located on C7.