Tests and Procedures

Living-donor liver transplant

What you can expect

Before the procedure

To be considered for a living-donor liver transplant, both the donor and recipient must undergo a thorough health and psychological evaluation at a transplant center. Separate transplant teams will care for the donor and recipient during the evaluation process and will discuss the potential benefits and risks of the procedure in detail.

For example, while the procedure often may be lifesaving for the recipient, donating a portion of a liver carries significant risks for the donor.

Matching of living-donor livers with recipients is based on age, blood type, organ size and other factors.

During the procedure

On the day of the transplant, surgeons will remove a portion of the donor liver for transplant through an incision in the abdomen. The specific part of the liver donated depends on the size of the donor liver and the needs of the recipient.

Next, surgeons remove the diseased liver and place the donated liver portion in the recipient's body, connecting the blood vessels and bile ducts to the new liver.

The transplanted liver in the recipient and the portion left behind in the donor regrow rapidly, reaching normal liver volume and function within a couple of months.

People who receive a liver from a living donor often have better short-term survival rates than those who receive a deceased-donor liver. But comparing long-term results is difficult because people who get a living-donor liver usually have a shorter wait for a transplant and aren't as sick as those who receive a deceased-donor liver.

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