Pediatric liver transplant
Loma Linda University Medical Center and Children's Hospital offer a fully integrated pediatric liver transplant program along with an adult living liver donor program for the pediatric recipient. Children's hospital at LLUMC has been known worldwide as one of the most comprehensive medical institutions offering a full range of services to pediatric patients, with more than 40 available intensive care beds. Just for Kids is available for your child to read and understand more about liver transplantation.
The transplant team
Every potential pediatric transplant recipient and/or donor will receive a fully comprehensive evaluation using a multi-disciplinary team approach. All of the team members take pride in offering a "user friendly" program with rapid intake of referrals, accessible staff, open communication lines, and thoughtful attentive care. This team consists of the following but is not limited to:
Pediatric transplant hepatologists
Transplant nurse coordinators
Child life specialists
Infectious disease specialists
All patients coming through our various transplant programs benefit from the diversity of transplants done at Loma Linda. The combination of a fully established world class pediatric facility, together with a dedicated group of health-care professionals, provide a unique environment for the care of sick children.
Liver disease and transplant
There are many different liver problems in children that can lead to liver failure requiring a transplant. The most common of these problems are biliary atresia, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, hereditary tyrosinemia, Wilson's disease, viruses, and toxins. Some of these problems progress slowly while others need to be treated more rapidly and aggressively. All medical and surgical treatments will be considered and/or tried before proceeding with liver transplant. A pediatrician that specializes in liver disease can advise you about the importance of your child's condition.
Every child and family referred for transplant will be evaluated on an individual basis. A complete physical exam and assessment of the child will be done. The family will be screened for psychosocial issues and the ability to provide long-term care and support to the child. This process must be completed before proceeding with transplantation.
A selection committee will review the results of the evaluation and determine if the child is an acceptable candidate for transplant. If the child is approved for transplant the patient and family will be notified and the child is placed on the National United Network of Organ Sharing waiting list. If the child is not a candidate for transplant the family and referring physician will be notified and medical care will be continued.
How long is the wait?
The waiting time will vary depending on the medical condition of the child and the availability of a donor liver. The wait could be a few days, weeks, or even months.
Where do donor livers come from?
Livers may come from a cadaveric donor or an adult living donor. Cadaver livers may be full-size, reduced-size, or split. Living donors will be able to donate a lobe or segment of their liver. The size of the liver needed will depend on the size of the recipient.
Who will pay for the transplant?
The financial counselor is notified as soon as a patient is referred to the program and will meet with the family to discuss financial matters. Medical coverage will be verified and benefits determined. If there is no coverage for transplant, arrangements will be made to assist the family in obtaining funding. It is critical that the patient be able to obtain the necessary long-term medications and follow-up care after transplant.
What to do while waiting
Keep all clinic appointments and follow-up instructions. Maintain good nutrition. Keep active. Continue to do the things that make you and your family happy. Do not put your life on hold while waiting for the transplant. Join support groups. It helps to talk to other people. This is a very stressful time so we encourage you to get as much support as you can get. Keep in contact with your transplant team. They are there to help you and your family.