Risks of a liver transplant


It’s important to understand the risks of a liver transplant

Key points

  • Not every patient feels better after having a liver transplant
  • A liver transplant is major surgery and you’ll need to take strong medicines afterwards, which can cause problems
  • The risks of transplantation can broadly be divided into early risks and longer-term risks
  • All donated organs have the potential to come with health risks

Understanding your risks

Most patients who have a liver transplant do very well and have many years of good liver transplant function. The risks of a transplant are, in general, much lower than staying on the risks posed by your liver disease. However, it’s important that you’re aware of the risks as well as the benefits of liver transplantation. This will help you to understand transplantation, and to be prepared if there are problems after the transplant.

Risk levels

For a liver transplant, each risk is said to be either: very common, common, uncommon or rare. This is based on the number of liver transplant patients that have been affected by the risk.

Risk level Number of liver transplant patients affected
Very common More than 10 in 100
Common Between 1 in 100 and 10 in 100
Uncommon Between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100
Rare Fewer than 1 in 1000

Example: Very common risk

The image below is a visual representation of a complication that affects 15 in 100 patients.

A visual representation of a complication affecting 15 in 100 patients

Example: Common risk

The image below is a visual representation of a complication that affects 2 in 100 patients.

A visual representation of a complication affecting 2 in 100 patients

Speak to your liver doctor about your risks

This information summarises the risks for most patients. But your transplant journey is unique. Your liver doctor will be able to discuss in more detail the risks you might face.



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