Question

Digestive Health

Is it safe to be a live liver transplant donor?

A Answers (4)

  • Live donor liver transplants are an excellent option for some patients. Because the liver is the only major organ that will regenerate, both the donor and the recipient eventually regrow livers of appropriate size for their individual bodies.The procedure itself, however, is quite demanding for all involved and not unlike the deceased donor transplant operation, has its challenges. For that reason, potential living donors undergo medical and psychosocial testing to rule out any unnecessary risk.The living donor operation has many benefits. Waiting time on the liver transplant list is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. The risk to the donor is not minor.  There is a 1 in 200 chance of dying from the donation and a 1 in 3 chance of having some complication short of dying.  All surgery has risks and liver donation is a big surgery.

  • ASusan M. Lerner, MD, Transplantation Medicine, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System

    You should know that there are risks involved with any elective surgery, and it is important to discuss potential problems with your medical center’sspecialized liver donor team; however, donating a piece of your liver does not mean you will develop liver disease or live a shortened life.Your liver will regenerate to its normal size within a few weeks of the operation.

  • Donating a portion of your liver to someone who is sick is a serious decision. Donors must take time off for the work-up, surgery and recovery. Usually they need 6-12 weeks after the surgery to resume activities. There is a small risk of dying when donating a portion of liver but it is less than 1%. The vast majority of donors resume all activities that they were doing before the surgery.
  • AAjay Sahajpal, MD, Oncology, answered on behalf of Aurora Health Care
    Yes and no.  There is currently a study being done evaluating adult to adult live donor liver donation looking to answer that question.  The mortality rate is approximately 1-2% to the donor if donating the right lobe of the liver and unfortunately there were two adult donor deaths in the U.S. at reputable centers last year.  Donating to children is considered safer for the donor, since a smaller portion (left lateral or left lobe) of liver is taken.
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Can a live donor be used for a liver transplant?