About the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease System
A scoring system has been developed that is very accurate for predicting survival in adult patients with liver disease. This system is termed the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease, or MELD. Previously, patients on the liver transplant waiting list were prioritized to receive a liver transplant according to their "status." Status depended upon blood tests, signs of severe liver disease and the amount of time spent on the list.
In the MELD system, each person is given a number (MELD score), which is determined from three routine lab tests:
- Bilirubin, which measures how effectively the liver makes bile
- INR (prothrombin time, which measures the liver's ability to make clotting factors
- Creatinine, which measures kidney function, often tied closely to liver function
If you are currently awaiting a liver, you must undergo periodic testing to update your MELD status. As a result, individual MELD scores may increase or decrease, depending on the severity of liver disease.
This system assures that donated livers go to the patients in greatest need at that moment. If you have a higher MELD score, you will always be considered for a liver transplant before those with lower scores. It is important to understand that the length of time on the waiting list varies considerably from patient to patient.