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Pediatric Liver Transplant Program
The pediatric liver transplant program at Children's Wisconsin is recognized as one of the top programs in the United States. Our outcomes include excellent survival rates and a higher rate of receiving a transplant than the national average. For children with severe pediatric chronic liver disease, or acute liver failure, a liver transplant may be the best and only solution. Our uniquely qualified staff work with your child, your family, and the referring physician to ensure optimal treatment before, during, and after liver transplant.
Why choose us?
- Founded in 1988, we are the largest pediatric liver transplant program in the state and have performed more than 160 liver transplants.
- Our liver transplant team performs combined organ transplants, such as kidney-liver, or heart-liver transplants. We perform live donor and altruistic live donor liver transplants.
- Children’s Gastroenterology, Liver and Nutrition Program is recognized internationally for diagnosing and treating children with a wide variety of digestive tract and liver disorders, including those who may require a liver transplant.
- The care team includes three certified pediatric transplant hepatologists and eight transplant surgeons.
- One of only a few centers in the country to offer liver and kidney transplantation as a treatment option for children with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease.
- Our close partnership with experts in our genetics program offers transplant as a treatment for metabolic liver disorders.
- We partner with referring physicians to care for patients with diseases that may lead to liver transplant, including cholangitis, disease of the binary tract NEC, biliary atresia, glycogen storage disease and many other conditions.
- Dedicated to improving the standard of care nationwide through research initiatives, including studies on pediatric liver transplant outcomes, quality of life and vulnerability in pediatric transplant recipients, transition to home and chronic illness care after a solid organ transplant.
- First pediatric living donor liver transplant (1999)
- First pediatric combined liver and heart transplant (2012)
- First pediatric in situ split liver transplant (2013)
Our transplant coordinators manage all care requirements needed to ensure a smooth transplant experience from hospital admission through recovery. In addition to our dedicated physician and nursing specialists, our multidisciplinary team also includes a liver transplant social worker, dietitian, pharmacist and child psychologist to ensure that our families’ needs are met.
We offer many family support services, including an Access Center to assist with coordinating hospital visits, Child Life Services, which provide support and coping techniques for the patient and their siblings, and a Family Resource Center that provides valuable tips and advice to help families flourish. Our team of dedicated professionals has been assembled to anticipate and meet the needs of your child – and your family – throughout the process.
Our commitment to quality, advancements in surgical techniques and improvements in follow-up care result in some of the best surgical outcomes in the nation. For patients transplanted between July 2017 and December 2019, our patient survival rate is at 100% and our graft survival rate for liver transplants is at 95% at one year post transplant. For the most recent data on our program, survival rates can be found on the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients website.
Your child's new liver will come from either a living donor – such as a suitable relative – or a deceased anonymous donor, following placement on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a private, nonprofit organization that manages the nation's organ transplant system under contract with the federal government.
Many diseases impact the liver, but not all liver diseases lead to transplant. Conditions that cause liver damage and could lead to a transplant include the following:
- Alagille syndrome
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Biliary atresia
- Cirrhosis: cryptogenic-idiopathic
- Acute liver failure
- Jaundice/cholestatic liver disease
- Metabolic liver diseases
- Total parenteral nutrition cholestasis
- Viral hepatitis
- Wilson's disease
Learn more about liver transplant conditions >>>
The liver transplant process is much more than surgery. A liver transplant requires extensive preparation and follow-up care that lasts a lifetime.
Liver transplant process includes:
- Evaluation of your child's liver condition and prognosis
- Placement on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list
- Living donor identification
- Pre-transplant education for your child and your family
- Waiting for a matching liver to become available
- Liver transplant surgery
- Surgical aftercare to prevent your child's body from rejecting the new organ
- Follow-up care to monitor health and progress through the years
Learn more about liver transplant process >>>
One of the most important ways we work on behalf of children and their families is through our research initiatives in pediatric liver transplant. This includes:
- Studies in Pediatric Liver Transplantation (SPLIT) - a national database of pediatric liver transplant outcomes
- Liver Disease and Liver Transplant Database Study
- Quality of Life and Vulnerability in Pediatric Solid Organ Transplant Recipients
- Parents of Pediatric Solid Organ transplant Recipients: Transition to Home and Chronic Illness Care.
For more information on the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program contact:
Janelle Rueter, RN, BSN, CCTC
Liver Transplant Coordinator