Can You Get a Liver Transplant If You’re an Alcoholic?


Your liver is a meaty organ found in your belly. It is located on the right side with a weight of 3 pounds. When it is taken out of the body, you will see that it is reddish-brown and may feel rubbery when touched. Take note that when you try to touch your body, you will not be able to feel your liver as it is protected by your rib cage. However, there are instances when the liver is damaged. When this happens, the doctor might suggest that you do a liver transplant. But will this procedure be successful if you are an alcoholic? Find out by reading through this article.

All About Your Liver

The fun thing about your liver is that it has two sections: left and right lobes. The main objective of your liver, along with your intestines and pancreas, is to process, absorb, and digest your food. For the liver, it will filter all the blood that will come from your digestive tract. It will also detoxify the chemicals and make sure to metabolize the drugs in the body. After these, it will secrete bile that will go to your intestines. Other functions of the liver are to make proteins for blood clots.

When the liver is not well taken care of, it can end up getting damaged. Some of the conditions that you can get are hepatitis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Fortunately, there are already various treatments for the said conditions. Each cure will depend on the ailment. One popular treatment is a liver transplant.

Liver Transplant

For those who are still unaware of what a liver transplant is, it is a surgical procedure in which your liver is removed and replaced by a new one. This is only done when the liver is no longer functioning or already in a state of liver failure. The new liver will come from a living donor or there can be times when it will come from a deceased donor.

It is important to note that not everyone will have a chance to undergo a liver transplant. It is usually a reserved treatment for those with severe complications, mostly those who have chronic liver disease. There are also times when a liver transplant is advised to those who had sudden liver problems. The tricky thing is that there are a lot of people who are waiting for a liver transplant.

In case the doctor suggests that you need a liver transplant, the first thing that you should do is find a transplant center. You can go to your preferred center or let the doctor make a recommendation for you. It is best that you know the transplants offered by the center and survival rates before scheduling the transplant.

After you have chosen the center, the doctor there will evaluate you. Know that each type of transplant has its own criteria. Some of the tests are:

  1. Financial counseling: Of course, it is best that you know how much the transplant will cost. There will also be post-transplant care so be sure that your finances are ready or even covered by your insurance.
  2. Meeting with your social workers: It is recommended by the clinic to see if you have family or friends that can take care of you after you have done the transplant.
  3. Psychological evaluation: This is done to check if you have mental issues like anxiety or depression. This can also help the experts see if you know and fully understand the possible risks that you can get from the transplant.
  4. Health exam: These refer to routine cancer screening tests and other examinations to check your health.
  5. Imaging tests and heart tests: These are done to see the overall health of your cardiovascular system as well as the liver.
  6. Laboratory tests: The doctor needs to check if the rest of your organs are still in good condition.

There can also be an addiction counseling to see if you have other addictions like drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.

Alcoholics and Liver Transplant

The thing is, if the doctors found out that you are an alcoholic, they will require you to stop drinking for six months. The idea behind this is for the doctor to see if your liver will get better when the alcohol is no longer running in your system. Also, the doctor will have to make sure that you will avoid and stop drinking alcohol even after the said operation.

If you are able to pass this test, then good for you. However, take note that not all hospitals give alcoholics a chance to get a new liver. There are those who believe that alcoholics do not deserve it and think that the patient will most likely return to his or her old habits. There are donors who even said that alcoholics are the ones who made the choice and are responsible for their damaged livers.

Even though the opinions vary on this issue, it is best that you check the hospital first. You do not want to be judged by other people for your past mistakes, right?


To answer the title of this article, yes alcoholics can get a liver transplant. However, there are conditions that you need to pass first before the surgery is done. The first one would be to avoid and stop drinking alcohol for six months. Then, you have to be sure that you will completely stop drinking even after the transplant.

Not all hospitals and donors are welcome to alcoholics to get a transplant. So the best thing that you can do is to check the hospital first on their opinion about the matter before you ask for the transplant. It might also be good to have a donor who will not judge you for your past mistakes or get a deceased donor. Hopefully, everything works out for you after the operation! Good luck.

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