Liver Donor Options

The pediatric liver transplant surgeons at St. Louis Children’s Hospital have a vast experience using all available liver donor options, including:

  • Segmental liver transplants – a portion of an adult deceased donor liver can be transplanted into an infant or child 
  • Living donor transplant – a portion of an adult’s liver (a parent, family member, or volunteer donor) is transplanted into an infant or child 
  • Split liver transplants – an adult deceased donor liver is split into two portions and either transplanted into an adult and infant or two children.

These liver transplant techniques enable maximal use of donor resources in both adults and children. As a result, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Liver Transplant Program has one of the lowest waiting list times for organ donors in the nation, with an average waiting time of 2 months, whereas the national average exceeds one year. (see Liver Transplant Statistics for more information).

 

Evaluation for Liver Transplant

Liver transplants in children should be considered immediately once the condition of end-stage liver disease is established to allow time for full evaluation and preparation and maximize the prospects of finding a suitable donor. 

At St. Louis Children's Hospital, children who are potential liver transplant recipients are carefully evaluated over 1-3 days, including review of diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of current status by imaging studies, coordinated laboratory tests and specialist evaluation and consultation.

The liver transplant team (consisting of transplant surgeons, a pediatric nurse practitioner, transplant coordinators, a hepatologist, child psychologist and a social worker) reviews all information with the family, and after full, frank, and extensive discussion, formulates a recommendation regarding treatment options, and the prospects with regards to potential outcome.

Comprehensive pre-transplant and peri-transplant care plans are developed. The pediatric liver transplant team works closely together in preparing for and performing the liver transplantation procedure as well as caring for the child following the organ transplant.