Liver transplant

A liver transplant is an operation to remove your liver and replace it with a healthy one from a donor.

It may be recommended if your liver has stopped working properly (liver failure) and other treatments cannot help.

What happens

Having a liver transplant involves 3 main stages:

  1. Having an assessment – to find out if you're suitable for a liver transplant, you'll have several tests and will be asked about your health and lifestyle.
  2. Going on the waiting list – if you're suitable for a transplant, you'll need to wait for a healthy donor liver to become available, which could take several months or more.
  3. Having the operation – when a liver is available, you'll go into hospital for surgery to remove your damaged liver and replace it with the healthy donor one.

This can be a long and difficult process, both physically and emotionally.

Life afterwards

Liver transplants are generally very successful and most people are eventually able to return to their normal activities afterwards.

It can take a year or more to fully recover.

After a liver transplant, you'll need to:

Most people live more than 10 years after a liver transplant and many live for up to 20 years or more.

Read more about life after a liver transplant

Risks and complications

A liver transplant is a big operation that has a risk of some serious complications. These can happen during, soon after, or even years afterwards.

Some of the main complications and risks of a liver transplant are:

A liver transplant will only be recommended if the risks of not having a transplant outweigh the risks of having one.

Liver donation

If you wish to donate your liver, there are 2 ways you can do this:

Page last reviewed: 29 January 2021
Next review due: 29 January 2024