Liver Transplantation Program

Lurie Children’s has one of the largest and most experienced pediatric liver transplant teams in the country. We provide family-centered care, which means the entire family is involved in the patient’s treatment plan. We use a multidisciplinary team to plan your child’s treatment so that your child gets the most comprehensive care possible. Our team members are from various healthcare specialties, and they bring a variety of experiences to the program. They will all consider your child’s treatment and use their combined perspectives to create a holistic care plan that focuses on the whole person.

Our program puts a unique emphasis on long-term follow-up care. Patients in our program can ask team members questions until they reach adulthood.

We also have a strong commitment to research dedicated to improving the health of children with severe liver disease. Some of our doctors have pioneered transplant techniques that many surgeons now use, including the surgical techniques needed for living donor liver transplant.

Conditions We Treat

Our program is the regional referral center for biliary atresia (the most common reason why children need a liver transplant) and acute liver failure, which is a rapid loss of liver function. We are also known around the world for our work in treating childhood portal hypertension, which is a rare condition of high pressure in the portal vein, the blood vessel that brings the blood from the intestines to the liver.

Learn more about conditions that can lead to liver transplants:

Volumes & Outcomes

Our program puts a unique emphasis on long-term follow-up care. Patients in our program can ask team members questions until they reach adulthood.

We also have a strong commitment to research dedicated to improving the health of children with severe liver disease. Some of our doctors have pioneered transplant techniques that many surgeons now use, including the surgical techniques needed for living donor liver transplant.

What to Expect

A liver transplant is recommended when a child with serious liver disease will not be able to live without having part or all of the liver replaced. (Partial liver transplant is possible because the liver is the only organ in the body able to regenerate or rebuild itself.). 

Lurie Children’s Liver Transplantation Program offers innovative treatments, including:

  • Split-liver transplant: Two recipients receive parts of one donor liver.
  • Reduced-size liver transplant: Part of a larger donor’s liver goes to a smaller recipient.
  • Living donor liver transplant: A recipient receives part of a liver from a living person.
  • Immunosuppression withdrawal: Medically stable patients may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for immune-suppressing drugs, traditionally given for a lifetime to prevent organ rejection after transplant.

The first evaluation with the liver transplant team may include:

  • Physical exam and health history
  • Psychosocial (mental and emotional health) assessment
  • Imaging and lab tests as needed
  • Financial needs assessment

After consulting each other, the team will decide if a liver transplant is suitable for your child. If so, we’ll provide support and education through all steps of the transplant process and beyond.

Our surgeons also are skilled in performing hepatobiliary surgeries, such as hepatoblastoma (or liver tumor) resections and the rex shunt, which aim to avoid or delay the need for a transplant.

Specialists

Our physicians’ expertise has helped establish Lurie Children’s as a world leader in liver transplantation.

Our transplant team includes:

Estella Alonso, MD, medical director of the liver transplant program, is board certified in pediatric gastroenterology (digestive and liver diseases in children) and pediatric transplant hepatology (pediatric liver transplantation). She is nationally known for her research on children’s medical and psychosocial outcomes after liver transplant.

The program’s surgical director, Riccardo Superina, MD​, is a board certified surgeon who specializes in pediatric transplant surgery. He is internationally recognized for advancing pediatric surgery of the digestive system.

Appointments

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®) or visit our Appointments page for more information. 

Research

The Siragusa Transplant Center is a national pediatric research center demonstrating Lurie Children’s long-standing dedication to pediatric research. The physician-researchers on our staff have pioneered influential new methods of studying pediatric liver disease and transplantation and receive substantial funding from the National Institutes of Health.