Living liver donation

Explore further

Find out if you are a good candidate for living liver donation.

Patient guide

Download our guide on liver donation for additional reading.

More than 15,000 adults and children in the U.S. are waiting for a liver transplant, but there are only enough livers from deceased donors to perform about 6,000 liver transplants each year. This organ shortage means many potential recipients die every year.

Increasing wait times for a deceased donor may lead to frustration and a difficult period for family members and loved ones.*

You can help by volunteering to become a living donor. It is essential that you discuss this complex decision with your family, the recipient and your doctors to learn as much as possible about the procedure.

About living liver donation

A living donor liver transplant allows a donor and recipient to share one liver through a specialized and complex surgical procedure that is possible because the liver is made up of segments. It is one of the body’s only organs that can regenerate to almost 100 percent of its original size and function.

How it works

During the transplantation, the donor and recipient each have their own surgical team and are in adjacent operating rooms.

In the donor’s operating room, surgeons remove part of the liver, usually the right half or lobe. Doctors also remove some of the blood vessels and ducts that assist with the function of the liver.

In the recipient’s operating room, surgeons remove the recipient’s entire diseased liver and prepare to immediately transplant the donated liver segment, blood vessels and ducts.

The dual surgery process takes 10 to 12 hours and requires a seven-day hospital stay for the donor. The liver takes two to four weeks to grow to full size for the donor and recipient.

Benefits

Donating a portion of your liver to a family member or loved one reduces the waiting time for the recipient and saves them from the stress of being on a waiting list. The recipient is often in the best health to undergo the transplant, which improves recovery time. Additionally, the organ from a living donor is often healthier than those donated after death.

* Data from OPTN/SRTR 2011 Data Annual Report: Liver