Duke's liver transplant program is one of the largest in the Southeast and the best in North Carolina. We maintain outstanding survival rates for people who need a transplant due to end stage liver disease, liver cancer, acute liver failure and other related liver diseases. We help you return to better liver health as soon as possible.
North Carolina’s top liver transplant center
If you are experiencing end stage liver disease or liver failure, our team of liver transplant specialists can help restore your quality of life and improve your liver health. We work closely with specialists from Duke’s nationally ranked gastroenterology program to manage care for patients with cirrhosis, hepatitis, liver cancer and other liver diseases that lead to acute liver failure, in hopes of delaying or preventing the need for transplant. Our experienced team of surgeons and specialists constantly test new approaches to care, which are made available to eligible patients. Their expertise has helped establish best practices in liver transplantation and help to improve outcomes for liver transplant patients nationwide.
A closer look at Duke’s liver transplant program:
- One healthy liver saves two lives. Duke is one of the few centers in the U.S. to offer split-liver transplants during which a healthy liver from a single deceased donor is divided between two patients with liver disease -- typically an adult and a child. This may save two lives rather than just one.
- Comprehensive care before and after transplant. Our transplantation team educates you and your family about your emotional and physical needs before and after transplant. Our care guides outline what you can expect throughout the process, and what to expect after a liver transplant.
- We transplant livers in combination with other organs. We have special expertise and achieve excellent results in multi-organ transplants, including liver-kidney, liver-lung-heart, and liver-small bowel-pancreas.
Living liver donor program expands your options
Our living donor program allows compatible family members and close friends to donate a portion of their healthy liver to adult and pediatric patients with end-stage liver disease, acute liver failure, or other serious liver disease. This option may decrease the time spent waiting for an organ to become available. Shorter wait times usually mean patients are likely to be healthier at the time of the transplant, which often results in a better liver health following the transplant.
The recipient’s new liver grows to normal size and is fully functional within two months. Our living donors undergo an extensive medical evaluation to determine if they are healthy and a suitable match for liver donation. This approach shortens wait times to transplant and improves outcomes.
Before your liver transplant
An extensive evaluation determined whether liver transplantation is the best therapy for you. The process may take several days, depending on what tests or screenings you need. A transplant coordinator will help you plan your visit. Testing may include:
- Blood and tissue tests. Check blood type and compatibility, assess kidney, liver and immune system function, and screen for viruses or infections that could affect your outcome.
- Liver biopsy. Involves the removal of a small amount of tissue from your liver to help diagnose the severity of your liver disease.
- Abdominal imaging tests. Doppler ultrasound, CT scan and MRI provide images of your liver and surrounding organs, blood vessels and lymph nodes.
If you are considered a candidate for liver transplantation, you will be listed in the national database maintained and administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Once you receive notification that a healthy liver is available, you will need to arrive at Duke within six hours. If you need to relocate to the Durham area, a transplant coordinator can assist you.
All transplant candidates at Duke participate in transplant education classes, led by our transplant coordinators, to teach you and your caregivers about the transplant process, the medications you need to take and the recovery process.
We involve your designated caregivers (family members or friends) from the time of your first evaluation through recovery. They attend your appointments, and we educate them about their important role in your care after surgery. They are our partners in restoring your liver health, and overall health, as quickly as possible.
After your liver transplant
Although organ rejection may occur following transplants, our innovative strategies to prevent organ rejection and injury are a documented success. We provide you and your caregivers the resources and support you need to live a healthy life after transplantation. Our transplant coordinators are always available to answer your questions or address your concerns.
We offer support groups for all of our transplant patients to maximize their liver health. These sessions, led by social workers, give transplant patients and their loved ones a chance to meet with others for emotional support, to ask questions and share information about issues such as medications, nutrition and exercise.