Adult Liver Transplantation at Penn State Health
At Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center our team of medical and surgical providers are here to address all of your liver care needs. Since performing our first deceased donor liver transplant in 1992, we have given more than 400 patients with end-stage liver disease a second chance at life.
Our multidisciplinary team provides expert care for a wide range of liver diseases and conditions, including:
- Acute liver failure
- Autoimmune liver diseases
- End-stage liver diseases
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Liver and bile duct cancer
- Portal hypertension
- Tumors of liver and/or bile duct
In addition to their transplant expertise, our highly skilled transplant surgeons are equipped to perform surgical treatments for liver and bile duct diseases and tumors/cancers, portal hypertension, and hernia repair when necessary. Penn State Health provides the comprehensive, personalized care and support you can trust, all conveniently located in one place.
Learn more about the transplant process
Referrals for adult liver transplant evaluation must come from a health care provider. Providers who can refer a patient for liver transplant may be a hepatologist, gastroenterologist, oncologist or primary care provider. Your provider can complete a liver transplant referral form and fax it to 717-531-3717 or contact our Transplant Office to initiate a referral at 717-531-6092. Office staff will ask for medical, insurance, and demographic information to determine if you can be scheduled for a transplant evaluation appointment.
View information on our program's adult liver transplant selection criteria.
Evaluation and Testing
To begin the transplant evaluation, you will be required to attend an education session that explains the transplant process, from evaluation to post-transplant care. Following this session, you will meet with each member of our multidisciplinary transplant team for a thorough medical, social, and financial evaluation.
Required testing may be different for each patient. After your transplant evaluation, your transplant coordinator will mail you a list of testing that is required to complete your evaluation.
Transplant Wait Time
Once your transplant evaluation and testing are complete, our transplant selection committee will determine if you are suitable for the national transplant list, which is operated by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS considers blood type, distance from the donor hospital, time on the list, immune system markers, the size of the donor liver and your Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score when matching deceased donors to recipients. The MELD score calculates the severity of illness based on a formula that uses bloodwork results. Because organs are allocated based on the candidate’s MELD score, the wait time can vary quite a bit.
While waiting for transplant, you’ll have ongoing visits with the transplant team to ensure you continue to be a good candidate for liver transplantation.
Liver transplant surgery is a complex surgery that may take eight to twelve hours. After surgery, you will be cared for in our dedicated transplant unit within Hershey Medical Center’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Our highly trained bedside nurses will provide you with around-the-clock monitoring. Once your recovery has progressed, you will be transferred out of the intensive care unit to a floor status room. Transplant team members will provide information about medications, post-transplant care and follow-up appointments to you and your support person(s). Our goal is to provide you with the education and materials you need in order to feel prepared and confident prior to returning home.
An organ transplant is a precious gift, and caring for it is a lifelong commitment. After discharge from the hospital, you will return to our post-transplant clinic regularly for follow-up care. The first four weeks after transplant, patients are seen on a weekly basis. Clinic visits and blood draws become less frequent over time. The transplant team follows every patient for the lifetime of the organ transplant.
For more information on liver transplant, see our Liver Transplant Patient Guide.
For information on our transplant center’s outcomes, please visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) website.
Additional Transplant Resources
- Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN):
- United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS):