The inclusion criteria for liver transplant candidates are presence of end-stage disease, limited life expectancy due to liver dysfunction, no therapy other than transplantation offers liver function improvement or extension of life and expected compliance with medical regimens. Beyond the physical criteria, the patient needs solid support systems prior to and during the surgery and a commitment to post transplant treatment regimes, according to Vanderbilt University Medical School.
Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) is the most common reason for liver transplants. Other common reasons for transplants include chronic hepatitis B and C, bile duct and genetic diseases and primary liver cancer, according to American Liver Foundation. Liver transplants require that the donor's body size and blood type match that of the transplant recipient. Doctors perform more than 6,000 liver transplants each year in the United States. The surgery lasts between four and 12 hours; patients stay in the hospital for up to three weeks after surgery.
Livers are donated by living and nonliving donors. Living donors donate a part of their livers. The donated part and the remaining part of the donor’s liver grow to the size the body needs in weeks. Most donated livers come from people who recently died and had no liver injury, according to American Liver Foundation.