What are the Liver Transplant Criteria?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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The liver transplant criteria basically require the donor to be in reasonably good health, 18 to 60 years old, and match the blood type of the receiving party. This donor must want to give part of her liver out of good will rather than any gain on her part, such as money or valuable possessions. For the receiving party, age is usually not considered, but not having a significant disease in a major organ tends to place the odds in the person's favor. Generally, having a psychiatric disease, such as depression, disqualifies potential candidates from getting a liver transplant. It is also best if the potential candidate is in reasonably good health considering his condition; for example, those who are near death might be disqualified due to possible complications during and after surgery.

Normally, the donor must be in good health, including not abusing alcohol or other substances. Having a history of substance abuse is generally considered a negative thing according to any liver transplant criteria because health professionals want all parties to be as healthy as possible, both physically and mentally. For the receiving party, substance abuse does not disqualify him, but a serious effort to quit must be put forth. Generally, the receiving party should be sober for a certain period of time, such as six months, and complete an approved rehabilitation program.


Typically, liver transplant criteria disqualify receiving parties with psychiatric disorders, such as depression, mania, or dementia. Donors must be capable of making the decision to transplant part of their liver with sound judgment, so some disorders may also prevent people from donating. It is also especially important for the donor’s decision not to be influenced by others; hospital staff often take great care to inform the donor of the risks and to ensure that she is not being coerced by the receiving party, family, or anyone else.

A major aspect of liver transplant criteria is using a liver with a matching blood type. Once it is decided that a patient is eligible for a liver transplant, health professionals must find a donor with the same blood type or type O, which is compatible with all blood types. Using a different blood type will result in liver transplant rejection, and therefore this is not performed by health professionals. Due to advancement in medicine, doctors rarely have a problem with other minor differences, such as variations in the blood vessels or bile duct, which is a tube that connects to the liver.


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Post 4

My husband needs a liver transplant. He is exceedingly sick. In and out of the hospital to have his swollen belly drained. He is near death with a MELD score of 32.

I personally know of a patient whose doctor added 15 points to the MELD score to get his not yet symptomatic patient transplanted.

Post 3

You can be disqualified if you have depression. Are you kidding me? I would ask why because if a person is medicated, how in the world would he be disqualified as a candidate. I guess my goose is cooked due to PTSD.

Post 2

@Scrbblchick -- Well, yes, you do sound a little heartless, but I can see where you're coming from. But a doctor has to look at who is the sickest, regardless of the cause, and as I understand it, a transplant board makes the decisions to rank transplant patients in the order of need.

I hope the ability to pay doesn't enter into the rankings decisions. I hope those on the transplant boards have more ethics than that. I don't even know that anything but the patient's medical information is available to the board, so they don't know if the patient they are considering is a celebrity or anything like that.

Post 1

So I guess David Crosby and John Phillips got their transplants because they had a ton of money, since both acknowledged their extreme, long-term drug and alcohol abuse, which probably contributed to both having hepatitis C, which is why they needed new livers. I'm sorry, but that just makes me mad. I know there were people who needed livers, but maybe weren't quite as sick. I guess that sounds a little heartless, but in my opinion, people who have liver disease not brought on by drug abuse should get priority. Eventually, you have to pay for what you do to yourself. At least when Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh got his transplant, he had been clean for years and living a notably healthy lifestyle.

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