Is it safe to be a live liver transplant donor?

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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.

Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery
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.
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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.