Factors Affecting Liver Transplant Survival Rate

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The liver transplant survival rate can be looked at as an overall figure, or can be broken down into more relevant statistical data. For example, the country and facility in which a liver transplant is performed can have rates that are vastly different from the overall number. Also worth considering is the type of transplant (full organ or partial, i.e. liver graft) and the status of the donor (living or deceased).

Liver Transplant Survival Stats by Location

To illustrate how location stats may vary, the Mayo Clinic liver transplant program will be used as an example. The Mayo Clinic website states, “Since the Mayo Clinic Liver Transplant Program began in 1985, more than 2,100 transplants have been performed, with some of the highest survival rates in the world.” The Mayo Clinic transplant program is available at three U.S. locations: Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. The stats for two of these locations are as follows:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona: from June 1999 through June 2010, 552 total liver transplants were performed. Of those, 105 were from living donors.

In full organ donations from living and deceased donors combined, the one-month survival rate was over 98 percent. Survival for one year was over 92 percent, with three-year survival coming in at just over 82 percent.

The national numbers for these same specifics were lower in every case, with one month at almost 97 percent, one year at over 88 percent and three years at over 78 percent.

It should be noted that the stats for liver transplant from living donors were even higher, and again beat out the national averages for the same specifics, with the Mayo Clinic recipients showing a 100 percent survival rate for both one month and one year; over 86 percent for three years. The national stats showed one-month survival at over 98 percent, one year at over 90 percent and three years at just over 83 percent.

Mayo Clinic in Florida: the listed wait time for a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Florida is 1.2 months, as opposed to the 11-month wait average nationally.

The survival rate for liver transplant in adults (both living and deceased donors) at the Florida location is higher than the national average. The one-month survival rate there is over 98 percent for recipients; nationally it’s almost 97 percent. The one-year rate is almost 94 percent, beating out the national average of over 88 percent. Finally, the three-year rate comes in at over 82 percent, as opposed to the over 78 percent rate nationally.

Liver Transplant Survival Rates by System

In an article published in the journal Transplantation Proceedings, the MELD/PELD system is credited with an ‘excellent’ transplant survival rate in multiple categories. The study followed 4163 adults and pediatric recipients of whole organ and liver graft transplant from deceased donors from February 2002 through December 2003. The conclusion reads, “We conclude that patient and graft survival have remained excellent since implementation of the MELD/PELD system. Although recipients with MELD scores in the highest quartile have reduced survival compared with other quartiles, their 1-year survival rate is acceptable when their extreme risk of dying without a transplant is taken into consideration.”


Liver Transplant. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/liver-transplant/

Excellent Liver Transplant Survival Rates under the MELD/PELD system. RB Freeman, A Harper, EB Edwards. March 2005. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15848465