If the transplant team thinks that you are a suitable candidate for the operation they will discuss with you whether you want to go on to the waiting list. If you decide to go ahead with the transplant the hospital will provide a short education programme about what will happen during and after the transplant.
The waiting list
People waiting for a transplant are put on lists according to their blood group. If you are very ill, or there is an immediate risk and you do not have a previous history of liver disease, you will be put on an urgent list. Waiting times vary depending on blood type and the size of livers that are available.
You will be allowed to temporarily suspend yourself from the waiting list if you feel this is necessary. This may be due to something work-related, to deal with a family issue or some other important reason.
Most people are well enough to wait at home until a donor liver is available. When you are on the waiting list, please bear in mind:
1) The hospital must be able to contact you at short notice. You should tell hospital staff if there are any changes to your details, including:
- phone number
- health, i.e. if you develop an infection, temperature or your treatment changes
- Failure to tell your hospital about any of these changes may threaten your chance of a transplant if a donor is found.
2) You should take care of your health by:
- eating healthy food (nutritional advice will be given by the hospital)
- taking regular physical activity
- avoiding alcohol
- not smoking.
3) You must prepare an overnight bag and make arrangements with family, friends and employers so that when a donor liver is found you can get to hospital immediately.
While you are on the waiting list your health will be monitored very closely.
How will I feel?
Many people find the process of being assessed and accepted for transplantation difficult. You will have to accept the uncertainty of the waiting list and learn to live in such a way that you can drop everything for the transplant with only a few hours' notice. Some people are naturally worried about money because you will be unable to work for at least three months after the transplant. Ask at your hospital about counselling and financial advice.
You may find it helpful to join a British Liver Trust support group if you are not already a member.