People get transplant in relation to their MELD score, if you are listed with a high MELD score your wait will probably be shorter than if you listed with a low score.
Wait time also depends on where you live.
For more information, check out this web site:
Or you can do like I did and have a live liver transplant. Then the wait time is just until the surgeon is ready to do the surgery.
A lot depends upon which transplant center in what organ distribution region you are listed at. Florida has one of the shortest wait times in the country. LA, New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area have the longest wait times in the US. It also has a lot to do with your blood type (If you have a rare blood type you can probably get a transplant more quickly) and how ill you are. The following article covers most of it.
In order to undergo a liver transplant, a patient must be placed on the national waiting list. The list is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which collects and manages all data that pertain to the patient waiting list, organ donation and matching, and transplantation occurring on the OPTN, the nation's organ transplant network. All liver transplant candidates in the United States must be listed with UNOS before a donor liver can be allocated.
Currently there are nearly 17,000 people waiting for a liver transplant in the United States. The median national waiting time in 2006 was 321 days.* This does not take into consideration in what part of the country a patient lives or their status at the time of transplant. Therefore, a patient's median wait may be longer or shorter depending on how sick the patent is or where they live.
The severity of liver disease in patients waiting for transplant ranges from having mild complications to being critically ill in the intensive care unit. UNOS has developed a scoring system known as the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease, or MELD, in which the sickest patients are given priority for organ allocation. Every center in the U.S. must follow the UNOS MELD system.
The MELD system involves a numerical scale, ranging from 6 (less ill) to 40 (gravely ill), used for liver transplant candidates age 12 and older. It gives each person a 'score' (number) based on how urgently he or she needs a liver transplant within the next three months. The number is calculated by a formula using three routine lab test results:
Bilirubin, which measures how effectively the liver excretes bile;
INR (prothrombin time), which measures the liver's ability to make blood clotting factors; and
Creatinine, which measures kidney function. (Impaired kidney function is often associated with severe liver disease.)
The only priority exception to MELD is a category known as Status 1. Status 1 patients have acute (sudden and severe onset) liver failure and a life expectancy of hours to a few days without a transplant. Less than one percent of liver transplant candidates are in this category. All other liver candidates age 12 and older are prioritized by the MELD system. Candidates age 11 and younger are placed in categories according to the Pediatric End-stage Liver Disease (PELD) scoring system. A MELD/PELD brochure and calculator are available on the UNOS website.
My husband finally had his liver transplant on June 3rd. My husband was waiting on a list in the NYC area for 4 months before we realized that he may well die before a liver would be available. Though his MELD score was high (actually reached 31 at one point) there are just too many people waiting and not enough donors. So I researched other transplant centers in NC where he has family. At first I thought one would need to be a resident of the state but I soon found out that you can be listed on multiple lists following an evaluation by each transplant team in the areas you are looking at.
The important thing is to be listed in separate regions. See here:
I know that had we not gone to NC, he would still be waiting in NY.
The week he was transplanted, his MELD score was 24. With a MELD score of 24 he was approx. #35 on the waiting list that week in NY.
By contrast, in NC he was #4. The three before him were not good candidates for this liver and amazingly it came to him. One can not begin to describe the joy of that moment when we heard there was a liver for him.
We will be eternally grateful to the donor and his/her family.
As OH advised you, check out the unos.org website for the data reports on the various transplant centers around the country.
Please note, that whether you can be listed at more than one transplant center depends entirely upon the health insurance coverage you have.
Not all health insurance plans will allow multiple listings. Some may prohibit it outright, some may require you to pay co-payments that you won't have to pay at your regional transplant center and some will provide the same coverage.
I am currently listed at two transplant centers, one here where I live on the west coast the other on the east coast. I have had 20% co-payments for all services at the east coast transplant center for my initial evaluation. listing and for all services needed to remain listed there.
So it is always best to check first with your health insurance company before making any plans to be evaluated and listed at another transplant center.
Excellent point, Hector. The insurance factor is primary. Thank you for bringing it up.
When my husband turned 65 and switched to Medicare for health coverage, I researched all of the Medicare Advantage Plans in our area to see which would cover a transplant. I also found out that the plan we selected has "passport services" you can activate where you will be charged "in network" charges though you are out of the area up to 9 months. (We have been blessed in so many ways.)
The key is to do the research. With the internet, you can find the help that you need.
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