Liver and Intestinal Transplant Programs

The Transplant Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is one of the hospital's six centers of excellence. The liver and intestinal components of this program are jointly overseen by the Division of Gastroenterology and the Department of Surgery. To date, more than 250 children have undergone liver or intestinal transplantation. Beyond monitoring the post-operative progress of these patients, specialists follow an additional 200 at-risk children with compromised liver or small bowel function. Each year, 30 to 40 children are added to the program.

Since 1995, the liver transplant program has been an international leader in the care of children with severe, irreversible liver damage. Performing an average of 25 pediatric liver transplants each year, the program has one of the highest success rates in the nation. Launched in 2001, the intestinal transplant program builds on this success to offer a last resort for children with intestinal failure who are unable to stay on intravenous feeding. Advances in surgical techniques and immunosuppressive drugs achieved by researchers at the School of Medicine helped transform this once experimental procedure into a viable, life-saving therapy.

Because services go well beyond the scope of surgery, early referral is encouraged. Both programs bring together a multi-disciplinary team, including a pediatrician, nutritionist, transplant surgeon, child-development specialist and social worker, to evaluate and stabilize each child during the wait for an appropriate donor. In some cases, these teams have obviated the need for surgery altogether, successfully rehabilitating a child’s liver or intestinal function.

The division's unique family-centered approach to care improves patient outcomes and minimizes the stress experienced by families coping with a child who is chronically ill. Its extensive network of outreach clinics allows children to receive pre- and post-operative care at hospitals in their local communities, while an innovative parent-mentor program trains parents of children who have undergone transplant surgery to serve as a resource for other parents in their area.

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