What Is A Liver Transplant?
A liver transplant is a surgical procedure that removes a liver that is no longer functioning properly and replaces it with a whole or partial liver from a deceased or living donor. The liver is a very important organ in the body and is responsible for:
- Removing bacteria and toxins from the blood
- Processing nutrients, medications and hormones
- Preventing infection and regulating immune responses
- Producing bile, which helps the body absorb fats, cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins
- Making proteins that help the blood clot
Due to the importance of these functions, when the liver begins to fail, many bodily functions are affected. Some of the most common symptoms of severe liver failure include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), easy bruising or bleeding, and fluid in the belly or legs. Liver failure can occur quickly in rare cases, which is called acute liver failure, or it can occur over a long period of time, which is referred to as chronic liver failure. Chronic liver failure occurs more slowly, and is most often caused by cirrhosis. In cases of cirrhosis, scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver and causes the liver to malfunction. The major causes of cirrhosis leading to liver failure are:
- Hepatitis B and C
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Genetic diseases affecting the liver, such as hemochromatosis or Wilson’s disease
- Diseases that affect the bile ducts
Among veterans, liver failure and the diseases associated with liver failure are some of the most commonly claimed disabilities within the VA disability rating system. Not all those with liver failure are at the point where a transplant is necessary, but as of 2020, there are over eleven thousand people awaiting liver transplant in the United States. Due to the high number of liver-related claims in the VA disability rating system, compensation is also provided to veterans who receive a liver transplant as a result of a condition they acquired in service that led to their liver failure.
How Does The VA Rate Liver Transplants?
Under 38 CFR § 4.114, the VA rates liver transplants as follows:
Diagnostic Code 7351: Liver transplant
- 100 – For an indefinite period from the date of hospital admission for transplant surgery
- 30 – Minimum
A rating of 100 percent is assigned as of the date of hospital admission for the veteran’s transplant surgery and shall continue for one year from the date of discharge from the hospital. After one year has passed, the appropriate disability rating shall be determined based on VA examination of any residual issues the veteran has as a result of his or her liver transplant.
Contact Our Office About Your Liver Transplant Claim
If you are a veteran who is scheduled for or who has recently undergone a liver transplant and would like to receive VA disability compensation for your condition, please contact our office today.