A liver transplant is a surgical procedure done in some patients with liver failure to replace their diseased liver with a healthy liver. When a patient receives a liver transplant, his or her entire liver is removed. It is then replaced by a portion of the donor’s healthy liver.
In living liver donor surgery, the donor and the recipient are placed in side-by-side operating rooms. A surgeon removes a part of the donor’s liver, typically the right half. This donated segment of the liver is then immediately placed in the recipient in the next operating room.
The remaining part of the donor’s liver is sufficient to maintain normal body functions. The recipient also receives a large enough segment of the donor liver to maintain body functions.
During approximately the next two months, the remaining and transplanted parts of the donor liver grow to normal size, providing normal long-term liver function for the donor and the recipient.
There are many benefits of receiving a liver from a living donor:
- No waiting period
- Surgeries can be scheduled at a convenient time for both the donor and the recipient
- A liver from a living donor typically lasts longer than a liver from a deceased donor
- A living liver transplant can be scheduled electively and before the onset of life-threatening complications while waiting for a liver from a deceased donor
- In October 2009, there were 15,900 patients waiting for a liver transplant
- In 2008, there were only enough liver donations to perform roughly 6,300 liver transplants
- Because of this organ shortage, more than 1,500 people die each year while waiting for a liver transplant.
- In 2008, 249 liver transplants were made possible by living donors
- The risk of dying from donating a portion of the liver is estimated to be one in 500.