The survival rate for liver transplant patients after five years is 75 percent, according to the American Liver Foundation. The original disease may sometimes reoccur, causing the patient to need another transplant or additional treatments. Other times, the patient's immune system may begin attacking the transplanted liver.
Most livers are taken from non-living donors with healthy organs, ALF says. If the donor is living, only a piece of the liver is transplanted. Within weeks, this section grows to the necessary size inside the recipient. Over 6,000 liver transplants are conducted annually in the United States, as of 2015.
Patients need transplants when their livers are failing, reports ALF. This is typically caused by diseases such as cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B and C, liver cancer and alcoholic liver disease. Physicians refer patients to transplant centers where their physical and mental heath states are assessed. A patient's financial state, and family and friend support are also taken into account.
Referred patients who are judged to be good candidates are put on the transplant waiting list. Those who are the most ill head the list, ALF explains. Wait time among patients differs significantly because blood type, body size, stage of liver disease, general health and liver availability are considered. In the United States, potential recipients far outnumber donors, as of 2015.
Within six months to a year, most patients find themselves ready to return to normal activity, explains the American Liver Foundation. A liver transplant patient who maintains a healthy lifestyle, exercises regularly, eats right and continues taking his medication finds he remains healthier over a longer period of time following a liver transplant surgery.