If your doctor thinks you might need a liver transplant, you'll need to have an assessment before you can be put on the waiting list.
This strict assessment is needed to check that a liver transplant is suitable for you and to determine how urgently you need one.
Where it's done
The assessment will be carried out at a liver transplant unit.
There are 7 hospitals in the UK with adult liver transplant units:
- London – Royal Free Hospital and King's College Hospital
- Birmingham – Queen Elizabeth Hospital (adults)
- Leeds – St James's University Hospital
- Newcastle – Freeman Hospital
- Cambridge – Addenbrooke's Hospital
- Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
There are also 3 children's liver transplant units:
- London King's College Hospital Paediatric Liver Centre
- Birmingham Children's Hospital
- Leeds General Infirmary Children's Liver Unit
How long it takes
The assessment process usually takes about 5 days.
You may need to stay in hospital during this time, or you may be able to go home at the end of each day.
The assessment involves talking to liver transplant specialists and having tests to check your liver and general health.
They may ask you about:
- your symptoms and how they affect your daily life
- your medical history – including any other physical or mental health conditions you have
- if you have a history of drinking or drug problems
It's important to answer these questions as best you can.
Tests you might have include:
- blood tests
- X-rays and scans
- heart tests – such as an electrocardiogram (ECG)
- breathing tests – such as spirometry
- an endoscopy – a thin tube with a light and camera on the end is passed down your throat
At the end of the assessment, the liver transplant team will decide if a transplant is suitable.
If you're suitable for a transplant
If the transplant team decide you're suitable for a liver transplant, they'll ask if you want to be placed on the waiting list.
This is a list of everyone in the UK who needs a liver transplant.
It's up to you to decide if you want to go on the list. If you do not need a transplant urgently, you can take time to think it over before making a decision.
Sometimes you may be suitable to have a transplant but too well to go straight on the waiting list at the time you were assessed. If this happens, you'll be monitored to check if your situation changes.
If you're not suitable for a transplant
Sometimes the transplant team may decide a liver transplant is not suitable – for example, they may think that it has a low chance of being successful.
If this happens, they may ask you:
- to have regular check-ups to monitor your condition – the assessment can be repeated if your condition changes
- if you want a second opinion – another transplant team can do an assessment to see if they agree with the original decision