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Short-Term Emotional and Mental Effects (Liver Donation Surgery)

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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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When someone goes through a stressful experience, it's common to feel a lot of different emotions. Liver donation surgery, like any major surgery, can be very stressful. So it's important that you are aware of how liver donation can affect you emotionally.
In other types of organ donation, it's common for a few donors to feel depressed and tearful before or after their surgery. This happens in about 1 to 2 out of every 10 kidney-donors.
"After donating part of my liver to my sister, I thought I'd be really happy, but instead I feel down all the time. Even though my sister is doing really well right now, I still feel like crying. Will this feeling ever go away?"
Most donors who experience depression will return to their usual personality and emotions as they continue recovering. If you're feeling depressed after your surgery, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she may want to prescribe short-term antidepressants or refer you to a counselor.
On the other hand, many people also feel a great deal of happiness and pride after they donate an organ.
"Even though I've felt some pain after the surgery, being a liver donor has been a great experience. I feel really good about the decision I made, and I know I've been able to help someone I care about very much."
Sometimes, people will feel very happy when the person who received the liver does well after surgery. But if the recipient starts to have problems, or dies after the surgery, some donors feel angry or guilty - like it's somehow their fault. Please know that no matter how the recipient does after the transplant surgery, you have done something very special and important - you've donated part of your time, comfort, and body to help improve another person's health.
In addition to the surgery itself, other factors can also contribute to the emotions a donor feels. For example, some donors are unhappy with the way their body looks because of the large scar, while others don't mind at all. It's also important to know that the medications used during and after surgery can trigger several different emotions such as depression and anxiety.
Finally, your interactions with friends and family members may also influence how you feel, so it's important to have a good group of people supporting you during this time.


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