Liver Transplant: The Wait List
Once you are placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) wait list, you may be curious about how an organ gets assigned to you.
In general organs are first assigned to patients locally, near the center where they are listed, then within a multi-state region, and then nationally. Livers are assigned primarily by severity of illness using a scoring system called MELD (Medical Endstage Liver Disease) Score; in general, the sicker you are, the higher your MELD score and the more likely you are to receive a liver. We share livers within our multi-state region (Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska) for patients who are very sick.
You are free to list at more than one center within a region or in more than one region in the nation if you have the ability to do so and you think it will increase your chances of getting transplanted.
Contact Information and Status Updates
We must know how to reach you at all times once you are listed. It is important that you keep your contact information current and inform us when you will be away. We also need to know about any changes in your health, as it may affect your ability to be transplanted. It can be life threatening if we transplant you when you are sick.
Waiting for an organ can take months, even years. It will be necessary for you to return to the UI Organ Transplant Center to update your evaluation from time to time as dictated by your degree of illness. We will contact you when it is time to arrange these appointments.
We will insist that you and your physicians send us any information that may be relevant to your status as a transplant candidate. Updates should include information about your illness, your social situation and insurance coverage, as well as your success at meeting all recommended general health guidelines for your age and gender.
When an Organ Becomes Available
It can be both exciting and stressful when you eventually receive the call that an organ is available for you.
While the wait for an organ can be unpredictable, it is best to make preparations well in advance. The call can come any time of day or night and you must have a reliable way to get to the University of Iowa in a reasonably short time frame (four to six hours).
- Make sure plans are in place to take care of all of your needs at home, such as care for children or pets, and that at least one support person can come with you.
- We want you to arrive quickly, but most of all we want you to arrive safely.
Bring all of your current medications and comfort needs.
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