Liver Donation from a Living Donor
Donating a Portion of Your Liver for Transplant
Deciding to donate a portion of your liver is an intensely personal decision with priceless benefits to your recipient. Duke’s liver transplant surgery team can help you understand what’s involved in the liver donation process, so you can make the decision that’s right for you. Should you decide to donate a portion of your liver -- to a loved one, a stranger in need, or without an intended recipient -- we will be with you every step of the way.
The Benefits of Living-Donor Liver Transplant
The most significant benefit of a living liver donation is that the recipient gets the liver transplant surgery they need. According to the American Liver Foundation, thousands of people die each year while waiting for a donated liver to become available. A living-donor liver transplant may also mean the recipient spends less time on the liver transplant list and can have the surgery before their conditions deteriorates.
Should You Donate a Portion of Your Liver?
If you are considering living liver donation, Duke’s liver transplant surgery team will provide you with extensive education about the risks and benefits before you make your decision.
- Your health and well-being are our priority. The life-sustaining gift of donating a liver is an intensely personal, physical, and emotional journey. Our liver transplant team includes liver specialists, liver transplant surgeons, social workers, and transplant coordinators. We are dedicated to helping you fully understand the procedure and make the decision that’s right for you.
- The transplant coordinator helps you plan your visit, answers any questions you may have, and -- should you choose to donate -- facilitates your personalized guidance through the process of donation, recovery, and follow-up. Medical staff is on call 24/7 for any needs that may arise.
- You will also be assigned an independent living-donor advocate. The sole function of this advocate is to represent and advise you on all decisions to be made.
- You have the right to decide that donating a portion of your liver is not for you. You can change your mind and delay or end the donation process at any time. You may speak with any team member or the living-donor advocate for assistance with this.
The Living Liver Donation Process
A comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation process will determine whether you can undergo the surgery with no ill effects, physical or otherwise. We select only liver donors who we are confident can return to their normal lives after surgery.
During surgery, the doctor removes a portion of your healthy liver, along with its associated blood vessels and bile ducts, through an abdominal incision.
Living liver donors typically spend about a week in the hospital and are on a strict lifting restriction for several weeks afterward. The type of work you do will determine when you can safely return to work. This will be discussed in detail with the coordinator and surgeon during your evaluation.
You can expect the remainder of your liver to grow back to its full, pre-donation volume by about three months after surgery.
Follow-up appointments with the transplant team are scheduled for one to two weeks after surgery and again at three months, six months, one year, and two years. You can return to Duke to see a member of our team, or your primary care doctor can collect follow-up blood samples and record vital signs like your weight and blood pressure.