Some patients with liver failure need liver transplantation. During liver transplantation, the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a donor liver. The donor liver is usually obtained from a deceased donor declared brain dead due to brain injury. In some cases, living donors can donate a portion of the liver to a patient.
The most common reason for liver failure leading to a need for transplantation is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a chronic condition caused by fibrosis (scar tissue) that builds up in the liver over time due to certain diseases. In the United States, hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of cirrhosis, but it has many other causes. Not everyone with cirrhosis will require a liver transplant, but once cirrhosis becomes advanced, liver transplantation may be the best treatment. Most patients with liver disease are treated by their primary doctor or gastroenterologist (GI specialist), who may refer patients to the Liver Center for consultation in advanced cases.
A less common reason for transplantation is acute liver failure. This condition occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy with no prior liver problem who develop sudden liver failure. This can happen for many reasons, including certain poisons or toxins, certain types of viruses and certain congenital metabolic disorders.