Liver transplantation is one of a number of treatment options for patients with debilitating liver disease. It's not for everyone, and should not be considered unless all other treatment options have been ruled out. The Liver Transplant Program at the University of Michigan Transplant Center is part of the first and largest transplant programs in the state, and one of the original transplant centers in the country. High volume, vast experience and a large team of physicians and surgeons means we have the capacity to take care of a large concentration of patients, especially patients who need to be hospitalized before their transplant.
Since our first liver transplant in 1985, we have completed over 2,300 liver transplants, performing approximately 80-100 transplants a year. Our patient survival rate at one year is 91%, and our graft transplant survival rate is 89%, both on par with national survival statistics.
We are highly experienced with splitting livers (allowing for a greater amount of transplants to occur), which involves portioning the donor liver, and using the smaller portion to transplant a child and the larger portion to transplant an adult. About 7-10% of our adult patients receive a partial graft, which is above the national average. At our Pediatric Liver Transplant Program, also one of the largest in the country, we perform 15-20 liver transplants a year and at least half of those are split graft transplants. We also have a comprehensive transition program for our pediatric patients who are old enough to move into our adult program.
Liver Transplant for Complicated Cases
Michigan Medicine is one of only 20 programs in the country that offers liver transplant for hilar cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) approved by United National Organ Sharing , which involves complicated multi-modality therapy before the transplant. We have the expertise required in multiple disciplines (i.e. radiation oncology, medical oncology, interventional radiology, surgery, and hepatology) to administer this type of therapy. We also utilize a multi-disciplinary team to treat and downsize patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer) using state of the art locoregional therapy including chemoembolization, radiofrequency ablation, and radiation therapy.
Diagnostics for Liver Transplant
Each member of the multidisciplinary team at the University of Michigan Transplant Center is a specialized expert dedicated to transplant patients. That includes our subspecialist radiologists. We have the largest concentration of liver MRI radiologists in the region – experts who only read MRIs. We also maintain the latest equipment for the best possible imaging.
Reason for Liver Transplant
Reasons patients may need a liver transplant include:
- Cirrhosis of the liver due to viruses, toxins and immunological diseases (end stage liver disease)
- Certain types of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma)
- Wilson disease (excess copper in the liver) – we are a Wilson Disease Center of Excellence
- Hemochromatosis (excess iron in the liver)
- Acute (sudden) liver failure
- Other rare metabolic and genetic disorders
Liver Transplant Research Studies
Research is an important component of the University of Michigan Transplant Center, where we are committed to cutting-edge studies that will benefit today's patient and patients of the future. The Liver Transplant Program has active research studies in a variety of areas, including early detection of liver cancer, adverse outcomes of frail patients post-transplant – and creating frailty measurements for improving physical function prior to transplant, acute liver failure studies, protocols for patients with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infection both before and after liver transplant, and a variety of immunosuppressive and antibiotic studies and protocols. In the next year, we will be involved in studies using room temperature pumping and conditioning of livers prior to implantation which may improve patient and graft survival. Our comprehensive multidisciplinary clinics and extensive clinical and basic science research programs assure our patients have access to the newest medications and technologies.
To make an appointment to evaluate your need for a liver transplant within the Michigan Transplant Center, call a patient care representative at 1-800-333-9013. Find a Universit of Michigan liver transplant doctor.