Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Liver Transplant: About liver transplants

Main Content

Liver Transplant

About liver transplants

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What does your liver do?

The liver stores fats, sugars, iron, and vitamins. The liver also makes proteins and helps to absorb food, break down fats, change food into nutrients, and control your blood sugar. It filters your blood to remove substances and toxins that can be harmful to the body.

Liver is a large organ located in the upper abdomen, near the stomach and gallbladder.

Who can get a liver transplant?

A liver transplant may be considered as a treatment option for people with certain types of liver disease and end-stage liver disease. End-stage means that your liver may no longer be able to keep you alive. There are many different causes of end-stage liver disease.

Who can donate a liver or part of a liver?

You can get a liver from a deceased donor (someone who has died) or from a living donor (a living person who donates part of their liver). Learn more about living liver donation (video).

If someone is interested in being a living liver donor for you, have them call the living donor program in Edmontonafter you are on the waitlist for a liver transplant.

Is a liver transplant right for me?

A liver transplant is not suitable for everyone. With a transplant, you are exchanging sick organs for healthy ones, with the hope of living longer and having a better quality of life. It is important to know that getting a transplant involves a lifetime commitment to medical treatment, like taking medicines every day, going to clinic appointments, and doing regular bloodwork and other tests.

A transplant is offered only when all other treatment options have been tried.

If you have or have had a serious disease or certain types of cancer, you may not be eligible for a transplant. Your transplant team will review your medical history to see if a transplant is an option for you.

If you smoke tobacco or cannabis, you will need to stop before you are able to go onto the waitlist for a liver transplant. Smoking increases the chance of problems after surgery.

Anyone with a history of drug or alcohol use will need to be assessed by an addictions counselling team. Support is available. Your transplant team can help connect you to counselling and other services. If you do not use the counselling and follow-up services for substance use that the transplant program recommends, you will not be eligible for a transplant. You may need to do random alcohol or drug tests while you are on the transplant​ waitlist and after your transplant.


Current as of: February 29, 2024

Author: Transplant Services, Alberta Health Services