Living donor liver transplantation

Your questions about living donor liver transplant answered

What is a Live Donor Liver Transplant?

A live donor liver transplant (LDLT) is when a living person donates part of their liver to a person on the liver transplant waiting list. The donor’s liver, unlike other organs, is then able to regrow (regenerate) within 12 to 16 weeks. LDLT operations have been successfully taking place in the UK since 1995 and PSC patients do very well indeed after LDLT 2.

Why would I need a live donor?

Usually, livers for transplantation come from people that have died. However, the number of patients on the national waiting list for a new liver is growing, and there are not enough donor organs to meet demand. Because of this organ shortage, the wait for a liver can sometimes be long, and sadly, some people die whilst waiting or become too sick to undergo the operation. Lots of work is being done to raise awareness and to encourage a positive attitude from society towards organ donation, in order to increase the number of people who have signed the Organ Donor Register. However, until there are enough organs to go round, LDLT is an option for some people who are on the waiting list.

What are the benefits of LDLT?

LDLT can reduce the time you have to wait for your transplant.

The donated portion of liver is likely to be in optimum condition because:

  • living donors are fit, healthy and carefully screened before being allowed to donate.
  • the surgery is done in a controlled manner, minimising the time that it is without a blood supply.

The LDLT is fully planned, allowing you and your donor to prepare for the psychological,
physical and social effects of the transplant.

Who can be my donor?

A LDLT donor is usually a friend or member of your family. Donating a portion of the liver is a big operation that carries some risks, and the person must be healthy, willing and psychologically ready to be your donor. This brave and amazing decision must be the donor’s and must be completely voluntary; they must not be pressured or do it for money. To ensure fitness, the hospital will give them a full medical assessment. They must also be a compatible blood group 88:

Compatible blood groups

Your blood group    Your donor’s blood group
O     O
A     O or A
B     O or B
AB     O or A or B or AB

Not everyone is suitable

It’s important to understand that not everyone who wants to be a living donor is suitable. Nearly 2 out of 3 potential live donors are not suitable 88. If a suitable donor is found for you, you will remain on the usual waiting list for a liver transplant while you wait for your LDLT operation.

How much of the donor liver is taken?

When you donate as a living donor, you usually give between 40 and 60% of your liver.

Should I donate my liver?

It's a personal and serious decision. Here's what people affected by PSC say:

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