The liver is the second most commonly transplanted major organ, after the kidney, so it is clear that liver disease is a common and serious problem in this country. Traditionally, organs for liver transplant are obtained from deceased donors, after they or their families have given consent to be an organ donor. Unfortunately, there are not enough deceased donor organs available for today's growing list of people who are waiting for a liver transplant. Many patients waiting for liver transplants become too sick to undergo transplant surgery, and some may die while on the waiting list. If a patient can receive a portion of liver from a relative or friend, he or she has a chance to receive a portion of a healthy liver before becoming too ill to withstand transplant surgery. Live donor liver transplantation is a viable alternative for some patients.Live donor liver transplantation is possible because the liver, unlike any other organ in the body, has the ability to regenerate, or grow. Both sections of the liver regenerate within a period of 4 to 8 weeks after surgery.
Pretransplant tests are done to evaluate the severity of the liver disease. A recipient may undergo some of the following tests before the transplantation:
Living donor surgery is done at a major center. Very few individuals require any blood transfusion during or after surgery. All potential donors should know there is a 0.5 to 1.0 percent chance of death. Other risks of donating a liver include bleeding, infection, painful incision, possibility of blood clots and a prolonged recovery. The vast majority of donors enjoy complete and full recovery within 2–3 months.
The main advantage is the shortened waiting time for the recipient. Depending on their condition, diagnosis, status, blood type and size, patients can be on the waiting list for months or even years. Some patients may develop complications and even die while waiting for a deceased donor organ.