for Veterans and the Public
Houston Transplant Center - Liver Transplant for Patients
The information in this section refers to the Houston Transplant Center and is only applicable to you if this is your designated transplant site. Please remember that each transplant facility may handle transplantation differently.
The first liver transplant was performed at the MEDVA medical center in 2007. Our liver transplants are performed right here on campus providing total convenience for the Veteran and their caregiver. We have team members with over 25 years of experience in solid organ transplantation. The MEDVA liver transplant program also offers a weekly liver transplant support group to pre and post liver transplant patients.
Much like at your local facility, your transplant facility will have a team of specialists working with you on your liver transplant. This team includes:
- Transplant Patient and His/Her Support Person (family/friends)
- Transplant Surgeon
- Transplant Nurse Coordinator
- Social Worker
- Physician Assistant
- Program Support
Evaluation at Houston
Once you have been approved for evaluation at the Houston Medical Center by the VA National Transplant Program, you will be contacted by the program support assistant (PSA) in Houston to schedule your evaluation. Your evaluation will be scheduled within 30 days. You should plan to stay for approximately one week, although in some cases you may need to stay longer for additional testing.
When your evaluation has been scheduled, you will receive a packet in the mail listing your appointments for the week, lodging, transport from the hotel and hotel shuttle service. It will also include basic information about the program and the lodging unit. You may receive additional materials from other departments at the medical center, but all scheduling will be coordinated through the transplant office. Please call the office or your coordinator if you have any questions regarding the schedule. Your referring medical center will arrange necessary transportation from your facility to our center for you and your support person. Our program support assistant will contact you one week before your evaluation to confirm you have received your packet and answer any additional questions you may have. Once in Houston, your transplant evaluation will begin with an in-depth education session with you, your caregiver, and the liver transplant coordinator about the transplant process.
Once you have completed your evaluation and return home, your information will be presented to our Medical Review Board (MRB) which consist of various members of the transplant program. Upon the completion of the review of information a decision will be made regarding your candidacy for meeting the requirements for liver transplant. You will be contacted by your liver transplant coordinator within one week regarding your candidacy for liver transplant.
During your waiting period you and your caregiver will return to Houston every 3-6 months for a follow-up visit. Make sure you provide updated contact information for you and your caregiver so that we can reach you if an organ becomes available. If you are called, your transplant coordinator will provide instructions where to go and what to expect during that time. If at any time you are hospitalized while listed, it is imperative to have your caregiver contact the liver transplant coordinator to inform them of the admission.
Expect to be in surgery between 4-6 hours or longer, if necessary. Once the liver transplant is complete, you will be taken to the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) where you will stay for 3-4 days. Once stable and suitable for transfer, you will spend the remainder of your hospitalization on the stepdown unit for another 3-4 days. Once discharged, you will remain in Houston for 1-3 months for lab draws and clinic follow-up with the transplant surgeon.
The Houston VAMC provides lodging for the patient and caregiver using one of the two hotels located in the medical center. Both are 1-5 miles from the VA campus. Shuttle service is also provided by the hotels to and from the VA hospital. Please check with the hotel shuttle or front desk to ensure pickup and drop off times and location.
Houston is located in the Gulf Coast region of Texas, and has a humid, subtropical climate consisting of hot, humid summers and chilly, mild winters. During the summer months, it is not uncommon for the temperature to exceed 90 degrees F. During these months, light, loose fitting clothing is highly recommended. A bottle of water for hydration is also suggested. Summer in Houston begins around May-June and ends around August-September. During the winter months, you can expect milder temperatures, averaging a high of 63 degrees F and a low of 45 degrees F. Warm, weather-resistant clothing is suggested for winter. Houston also receives a high amount of annual rainfall, so consider packing a water-resistant jacket or umbrella.
The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center has a total of two ATM machines located throughout the 1st floor. There is a two dollar ATM fee for all non-members of the Smart Financial Credit Union. The Credit Union, located on the 1st floor, is open Monday-Thursday, 8:30am-4pm and Friday, 8am-3:30pm. Only cash, debit and credit cards are accepted as forms of payment. Checks will not be accepted.
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
2002 Holcombe Boulevard
Houston, TX 77030