Liver Transplant: Waiting List

The liver transplant waiting list is a computer list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. Determining who gets a liver is based on a formula that takes into consideration lab values such as creatinine, total bilirubin, and a measure of blood-clotting time called INR. UNOS assigns a MELD score based upon these values. The higher the MELD score, the sicker the patient and the higher the patient goes on the transplant waiting list.

Livers are matched only for blood type (A, B, O, AB) and size. Unlike other organs, livers do not require special tissue-typing to determine which liver donor makes the best match.

Waiting Period

The waiting period begins once you've been listed. The wait time varies, depending upon organ availability and the severity of your illness. During this time, you will be seen in the UT Southwestern Medical Center Transplant Clinic and will need to have regular lab work to maintain your position on the UNOS waiting list.

It is very important that you contact our office with any changes in your phone number, address, or insurance coverage. If you are hospitalized or the disease worsens, you must contact the coordinator. Any medical changes may alter your position on the waiting list.

You will need to be available – by phone or pager – at all times so that when an organ becomes available the coordinator can reach you. If we cannot find you, we may be unable to do the transplant when an organ becomes available. The transplant will usually occur within six to 12 hours of initial contact.

While on the Waiting List

  • You need to let us know if you have a problem or are admitted to the hospital.
  • You will be seen in our clinic at least once every six months.
  • When you are called in for the transplant, you must be at the hospital as soon as possible. You should plan the trip to the hospital ahead of time. Don’t wait for the phone call from the transplant center to find transportation.