The Victorian Liver Transplantation Unit is a collaborative service between Austin Health and the Royal Children's Hospital, and provides liver transplant services to residents in Victoria, Tasmania and parts of Southern New South Wales and South Australia.
Under certain circumstances, patients are accepted from outside this geographically distinct area. We care for patients of all ages, with paediatric transplantation being performed in collaboration with the Royal Children's Hospital.
Over 950 liver transplants including over 100 paediatric liver transplants, have been performed since 1988 and world class survival outcomes have been achieved.
The Liver Transplant team is a multi-disciplinary team, with dedicated experts from various aspects of transplant care. Every successful transplant needs a focused and well coordinated team approach.’
Professor Robert Jones (AM) is the Liver Transplant Unit Director. His surgical team consists of a number of Surgeons with extensive experience in general and liver surgery. You will likely first meet a Surgeon during your work up for your surgical review. This could be any of the Surgeons on the team and they will talk to you about your illness, transplant and the surgical aspects of your transplant. The Surgeons have a roster so it may be any one of the Surgeons on the team who does your transplant. Two or three Surgeons will be involved in your transplant.
The Surgeons will then see you on the ward after your transplant. The Surgeons work very closely with the Physicians, Nurses and other team members.
The Surgical Team
Professor Peter Angus is the Liver and Intestinal Transplant Unit Medical Director. His team consists of the Physicians, who are the doctors that medically manage your illness and transplant. The Physicians, and sometimes the Registrars, will see you regularly before your transplant, when you are in hospital and in post transplant clinic.
The Unit has a dedicated Consultant Psychiatrist who will be involved in all work up assessments. Their role is to identify any current or future psychological issues that may impact on your liver transplant. They can be involved in helping support you through the waiting period, dealing with psychological and emotional issues around the time of the transplant and can help with adjustments and challenges you may face after transplant.
The Registrars, Residents and Interns are the doctors that manage many of your day to day medical needs. They are the doctors you will see most of when you are in hospital. The Liver and Intestinal Transplant Unit Registrars work directly under and very closely with your physician. The Residents and Interns are junior doctors who are being trained by the Registrar. The Registrars, Residents and Interns rotate to other areas every 3-4 months.
If you require urgent medical advice after hours please contact the Registrar via the Austin Switchboard on (03) 94965000 and ask for the Liver Transplant Registrar to be paged. If your medical situation is an emergency please call an ambulance by dialling 000.
There is a team of Nurses who are the Liver and Intestinal Transplant Nurse Coordinators. They are Nurses who work at either the Austin or Royal Children’s Hopsital and are trained in liver transplant and transplant coordination. It is one of these Nurses that will contact you when a donor organ becomes available and let you know what to do. This nurse will also regularly call your family during your surgery to provide updates.
The Liver and Intestinal Transplant Nurses are assigned to the different stages of transplant to help look after patients in that stage. They work very closely with your Physician, the Registrar and Allied Health staff to coordinate your care.
The Nurses provide education for you and your family before and after liver transplantation. They will put you in touch with other transplant recipients and appropriate staff and services to meet your needs. The Transplant Nurse will also coordinate your investigations required for the liver transplant assessment and facilitate your care in the liver clinics.
They also provide a twenty-four hour on call service and some of these Nurses also work as Transplant Coordinators.
The Transplant Nurse will provide information on writing an anonymous “Thank-you” letter to your Donor Family and is available to discuss any concerns you may have about your care.
The Dietician will be able to help you with any problems that you may have with your eating or appetite, advise you of any changes to your diet that may need to be followed prior to transplant and provide you with recipes and information.. The liver plays an important role in the processing and metabolism of foods, so patients with advanced liver disease often become malnourished. The liver transplant Dieticians will try to prevent this by monitoring your food intake, body weight and muscle stores in the pre-transplant period, with the aim of keeping you as strong and healthy as possible prior to your transplant.
It is important that you contact your Dietician if you have any unintentional weight loss; notice that you lose muscle from your arms, shoulders, face or legs; if you experience nausea, diarrhoea or loss of appetite; and if you feel full quickly.
The Occupational Therapist may see you if you are having difficulty managing any of your daily activities because of your liver disease. Not all patients are reviewed by the Occupational Therapist. Referrals are made at the discretion of the liver transplant team or you may request to see the Occupational Therapist. The Occupational Therapist can work with you to maintain or regain your independence, maximise occupational performance and enhance your well being and quality of life. They can provide education and advice, recommend aids and equipment and assess your home environment.
The Pastoral Care Chaplain is available to provide emotional and spiritual support to you and your families.
You may share your struggles and hopes or address issues like the impact of the illness on your life, the link between the donor and the recipient, or how to find a new meaning in changed circumstances. They can also provide for specific religious needs.
The Pharmacist is available to provide information on your current medications, their side-effects and the medications you will need to take after liver transplant.
The Physiotherapist is available to help you with breathing and walking exercises necessary to help you recover following your operation. An individual exercise program will be provided and progressed to optimise your physical condition prior to surgery.
The Social Worker is available to assist you with social, practical and emotional issues and/or challenges including finance, accommodation, transport and counselling in areas such as adjustment to illness, family relationships and lifestyle changes. Social Work also supports and assists carers with practical and emotional issues. Carers have a difficult role and they often have to make significant lifestyle, work and relationship adjustments.
There are a number of Administrative Staff members in the Liver and Intestinal Transplant Unit.
If you have any concerns or questions related to your medical condition, treatment or appointments, you are encouraged to contact the Liver Transplant Reception on 9496 5353 and you will be referred to the appropriate team member.