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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Liver Transplant

Liver transplants have become common operations worldwide. A healthy liver is usually obtained from a donor who has recently died, but has not suffered liver injury. The donor liver is transported in a cooled saline solution that preserves the organ for up to 8 hours, thus permitting the necessary tests for donor-recipient matching.

The diseased liver is removed through an incision in the upper abdomen. The donor liver is put in place and attached to the patient's blood vessels and bile ducts. The operation may take up to 12 hours and requires a large amount of transfused blood.

In some cases, a living donor may donate a section of liver for transplant to someone else, often a family member or friend. This poses some risk to the donor because of the nature of the operation, but since the liver can regenerate itself to some extent, both parties usually end up with fully functioning livers after a successful transplant.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Liver Transplantation
Extensive array of information resources regarding all aspects of liver transplantation. Selected and maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
Click on "Transplant Living" for information, resources, and tools for patients, families, and caregivers.

U.S. Transplant: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients
Check Transplant Statistics to see how NMH stands in relation to other transplant centers.

American Liver Foundation
Site offers an array of information about liver disease and transplantation, as well as clinical trials and chapter locations and specifics. The Illinois chapter features an online support group and message board.


  • Liver
  • Chart of Digestive System


  • 100 Questions & Answers about Liver Transplantation. Gordon F. 2007.
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery. Krapp, K, ed. 2004.
  • Atlas of Liver Transplantation. Molmenti E. 2002.
  • Organ Transplants: Making the most of your gift of life. Finn R. 2000.
  • Lizzy Gets a New Liver = Lizzy Tiene un Higado Nuevo. Ribal L. 1997.
  • Puzzle People: Memoirs of a Transplant Surgeon. Starzl TE. 1992.


  • Mini-Med School: the Liver, v. 4: Liver Transplant. 90 min.


The organizations listed in Internet Resources provide support, education and advocacy.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center  at 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateMarch 15, 2012