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Living-donor transplantation involves the surgical removal of a portion of the donor's healthy liver for transplantation into a recipient in need. During this procedure, the entire diseased liver is removed from the recipient, and then replaced by a portion of the donor's health liver. After transplantation, the partial livers of both the donor and recipient will regenerate to form complete two complete organs.

Benefits to Living Donation

There are multiple benefits to live donor liver transplantation. The primary advantage is that you will not have to wait on the transplant waiting list for a liver offer. You will be able to receive a transplant while you are still generally healthy and will not need to worry about decompensating while waiting on the transplant list. This also allows the transplant to be scheduled at a time that is best suited to your health and the donor's availability.

Outcomes

Recipient outcomes using a living liver donor grafts are equal to or better than outcomes using a deceased donor organ. Liver transplantations with a living donor are done so with healthy donor livers and can be performed at a time that is optimal for the recipient.

Learn more about live liver transplantation below.

Do I qualify for a live donor liver transplantation?

A potential recipient of a live donor liver transplant must meet these three criteria:

1. Be deemed a candidate for a deceased donor liver transplant
2. Meet our current listing requirements
3. Be listed with UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing).

Adult patients who have fulminant hepatic failure (acute liver failure) or who are critically ill may not be eligible to receive a live donor transplant because a partial liver transplant may be too small. A living donation must be performed when the recipient is still well enough to survive with a partial liver.

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Will considering this procedure affect my spot on the waitlist?

All potential recipients of living donors are also listed with UNOS (The United Network for Organ Sharing). Your position on that list will not change as a result of considering a live donation.

If for some reason, a living donation does not go forward, the recipient will still be eligible for a liver from a deceased donor. In addition, if the recipient's name comes up for an organ prior to the living donor surgery, the deceased donation would take precedence.

Organ allocation is maintained by UNOS, a non-profit charitable organization that operates the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under federal contract. On an ongoing basis, the OPTN/UNOS continuously evaluates new advances and research and adapts these into new organ transplant policies to better serve patients awaiting transplants.

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How do I find a donor?

Finding a living donor can be challenging for some patients. These challenges tend to arise from a lack of outreach to family and friends an aversion to discussing your health with those same people.

We recommend recruiting a Care Champion for those tasks. A Care Champion is someone in your support group who is willing to do the work for you.

Oftentimes it is easier for your Care Champion to reach out to your family, friends and community to inform them about your health needs and ask if anyone would be interested in pursuing additional information on becoming a living liver donor. This alleviates an uncomfortable conversation you may wish to avoid and gives a potential donor the opportunity to come forward and gather more information without having to inform you of their consideration.

To help in this task, we have drafted a letter that your Care Champion may use as a guide or resource when reaching out and sharing your story.

For recipients who do not have a close friend/family circle, locating donors can be even more difficult. In these situations, we recommend reaching out to your local community organizations to see if you are able to spread the word that way. It could be a letter or e-mail to your local parish, temple, PTA, hobby group or support group. Many patients have found that social media is an extremely easy way of getting your request to a large group of people very quickly.

To help in this task, we have drafted a letter that you may use as a guide or resource when reaching out and sharing your story.

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What are some things I should look for in a donor?

Living donors have to meet certain criteria to be considered for evaluation:

1. They must be between the age of 21–59, an adult capable of providing full informed consent
2. They must be in general good health
3. They must not have a liver disease or active hepatitis
4. They must not have severe psychological disorders or active substance abuse
5. They must not have a BMI ≥35 or have significant fat within their liver
6. They must not have severe cognitive/developmental delay
7. They must not expect to receive payment or material compensation from anyone for their gift
8. They must not feel coerced or forced to donate
9. They need to have active health insurance
10. Living Donors should have the means to take time off from work/school/etc. for their evaluation (at least 2 days), their hospitalization (5-7 days) and their recovery (4 -8 weeks)

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