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Pediatric Transplant Care

Waiting for a Liver Transplant

Our team will help your family stay emotionally and physically prepared for your child’s liver transplant.

Your Child’s Place on the Waiting List

We will add your child’s name and medical data to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a national waitlist and computerized matching system. When a liver is available from a deceased donor, the UNOS matching system generates a ranked list of liver transplant candidates suitable to receive the organ.

Learn more about how organs are matched on the UNOS website.

What Affects Transplant Wait Time?

Your child must keep up with appointments and lab work to be eligible for a deceased-donor liver when it becomes available. Wait time for a liver transplant also depends on:

  • Availability of suitable livers in our donation service area
  • Blood type
  • Donor’s age
  • Model End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD)/Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease (PELD) score

What is MELD/PELD Score?

Stay informed about your child’s MELD/PELD score, which your University Health transplant care team will give you. MELD/PELD gives liver transplant candidates a score ranging from 6 (less ill) to 40 (gravely ill). The UNOS matching system uses the score to indicate how urgently your child needs a liver transplant within the next three months.

  • MELD – Calculates the score for your child (age 12 and older) using three routine lab test results for bilirubin, INR (prothrombin time) and creatinine
  • PELD – Calculates the score for your child (under age 12) using age, gender, height and weight, bilirubin, albumin and INR (prothrombin time)

While You Wait

Waiting is often the most stressful part of the transplant process. Even though you do not know when a liver will be available, it’s best if your family is ready for a call at any time.

Emotional Well-Being

If your family members feel stressed, anxious or have trouble coping during the waiting period, ask for help. Talk to your child’s transplant care team, clergy, social worker or counselor. Seek help from other families in a transplant support group.


Support age-appropriate physical activity as your child waits for a liver transplant. It is difficult to remain active when your child feels bad, but being physically fit reduces recovery times and the risk of complications after surgery. Ask your transplant care team about the types of activities that are best for your child.


Good nutrition combined with exercise helps maintain a better quality of life during the waiting period. Your child should follow a low-salt diet to help prevent fluid from building up in the abdomen and legs. Keeping your child well-nourished may result in a shorter recovery and fewer complications after liver transplant surgery.

Planning Ahead

,p>Prepare for family responsibilities and financial expenses related to transplant surgery, such as:


  • Finding lodging while your child is in the hospital
  • Determining who will be the child’s primary caregiver after transplant
  • Paying bills, doing chores and caring for pets

Pre-Transplant Medications

Make sure your child takes the prescribed medications to control symptoms associated with liver disease before transplant.

Medical Care

Take care of your child’s health needs:

  • Visit the dentist regularly to keep teeth and gums healthy and avoid infections after transplant
  • Keep appointments with other doctors and make sure vaccinations are up to date
  • Attend your child’s transplant clinic follow-up appointments and adhere to lab draws for your child based on MELD/PELD score
  • Maintain contact with the transplant team
    • Notify us if your child has a blood transfusion, immunizations, or an infection
    • Update your child’s Transplant Coordinator if you have telephone, address or insurance changes
    • Let us know if you are going out of town and share how we can reach you
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