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What is the average wait time for a liver transplant?

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Quick Answer

As of 2015, the wait time for a liver transplant in California varies from 12 to 36 months depending on several factors, according to California Pacific Medical Center. Blood type, severity of liver disease and liver availability all affect when a patient receives the donated organ.

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Full Answer

Wait times for liver transplants also depend on a patient's overall health and body size, notes the American Liver Foundation. The sickest people have the first priority for donated livers, provided the blood type matches that of the donor organ. More than 16,000 people await liver donations, as of 2015.

Organ allocation is based on a score for the Model for End-stage Liver Disease, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Scores range from 6 to 40 for MELD, and patients who have a higher score get placed further up the prioritized list. Evaluation times for organ transplants may take one to two months at Johns Hopkins.

A few factors can lower waiting times, says ABC News. Patients can get on multiple listings and have multiple examinations to cut waiting times. Health insurance policies usually cover just one evaluation and one listing for organ donation, even though there were 49 organ procurement organizations in 2009. Some parts of the country had waiting times of a few months in 2009, as compared to the overall average wait time of one year. Patients who can afford more care, and more medical evaluations, can get on more waiting lists for organ donation even if their MELD scores cannot alter a priority list.

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