All transplant candidates begin the program with a comprehensive series of tests conducted by our multidisciplinary team of specialists. Some of these tests are required for any operative procedure (history and physical, chest x-ray, EKG, etc.) while others (such as specific blood tests) are required for transplantation surgery.
Once the evaluation is complete, the transplant team will recommend treatment options and discuss if liver transplant is the best option. The risks and benefits will be discussed with each patient. After a candidate is accepted for transplantation, the patient is then placed on the national transplant waiting list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Because of the ongoing shortage of donor organs in this country, candidates may be on waiting lists for a year or longer. The time may be shorter or longer depending on the donor supply and the patient waiting list. While waiting, the patient is followed in the liver transplant clinic periodically to assist with any medical issues that may arise.
A Network of Support
During the initial stages of evaluation, the patient undergoes many tests and sees many specialists. This is also the time when the patient is first introduced to the support network. The transplant coordinators, social worker, and Financial Coordinator play an extremely important role in providing this support.
The transplant coordinators are involved in the pre-transplant screening and stay involved throughout the years of follow-up care. In this way, patients benefit from having the same people throughout their participation in the program. Our patients tell us that the transplant coordinators, because of the range of their involvement and the depth of their concern, are essential participants in the support network.
Our social workers are a resource, advocate and a link between patients and all the services designed to assist them. The social worker helps patients and their families address the many complex social and personal that arise for transplant patients. The services range from helping with personal and psychological issues that result from living with a chronic medical condition, to lodging, joining support groups and receiving vocational rehabilitation.
The financial coordinator assists patients with financial and insurance issues related to transplantation. The services include assessing patient insurance for hospital and pharmacy benefits, identifying and attempting to resolve patient financial problems, and helping patients in requesting and applying for assistance from transplant resource programs.