A liver transplant is an operation by which the patient’s liver is replaced with a liver from a deceased donor or, in cases of partial liver transplant, from a live donor. A liver transplant is needed when your own liver can no longer perform its important functions such as eliminating drugs and toxic substances from your body, producing immune and coagulation factors and synthesizing body protein. Cirrhosis is the leading cause for liver transplantation, as a result of a viral infection commonly with hepatitis C.
Liver transplantation is a common surgical procedure with around 5000 operations performed annually, and thus, making second on the list of most common organ transplant operation done in the United States.
How much does liver transplant cost?
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)’, the estimated U.S. average in 2011 of billed charges per liver transplant is $577,100. The costs of your liver transplant include transplant evaluation and testing, transplant surgery and follow-up care and medication. Even before a liver transplant, you have probably received many medical bills for treatment by your physician, hospital, laboratories and medical specialists. These costs add up quickly.
Additionally, liver transplant patients need to take several drugs called immunosuppressive drugs to sustain your transplanted liver for the lifetime of your transplant. Some of these medications, such as the Prograf can cost up to $3000 USD per month, although the cost is merely dependent on the dosage and on the different type of drug prescribed.
Once you are considering a liver transplant, you must take into account all the cost that may occur as well as to make a plan on how you can best handle them. If you have already acquired some medical debt even before the liver transplantation surgery, you should include them too in your financial plan.
Only very few patients are able to pay all of the transplantation costs from a single financial source. Most people combine sources and finance the transplant surgery through insurance coverage and cover some of the other costs from savings, fundraising or non-governmental and governmental funding.
Patients may also take into consideration other options such as loans, credit cards, selling their home or other belongings and having a second mortgage in order to cover the cost.
Among the most common funding sources include: private insurance, Medicare and Medi-Cal, TriCare, Social Security Income (SSI) / Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) are all options that can help patients offset the cost. Using a combination of options can help reduce the risk. However, it is important to note that the whole process of a liver transplant can take months to years. This means patients and their families will have to consider long term options and strategies as well.
Liver transplant patients, their families and friends often use medical fundraising to help cover out of pocket costs not paid by medical insurance, such as child care, transportation, food and lodging. These costs can be a burden to the family budget, and fundraising can be, in fact, be an important source for financing transplantation related costs. Online crowdfunding has been proven successful in helping patients raise money for treatment, and avoid medical debt due to unpaid treatment bills.
In the US, there are few websites which are free and easy to use, and on which you can create your own pledge page and start collecting funds that will cover the costs which you cannot afford for your liver transplant.
1) Financial Matters: Liver Transplant Costs: http://www.cpmc.org/advanced/liver/patients/topics/finance.html
2) Before The Transplant: Costs: http://www.transplantliving.org/before-the-transplant/financing-a-transplant/the-costs/
3) Getting a liver transplant: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/livertx