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Liver Donation Surgery Complications

Some patients develop liver donation surgery complications, such as temporary jaundice, delayed return of intestinal functions, and abnormal scar formation. Most minor complications only last about a week or so. In some cases, however, complications can be more severe and may require immediate medical attention. Major liver donation surgery complications include bile duct problems (such as bile leakage), blood clots, and liver failure.

An Overview of Liver Donation Surgery Complications

Liver donation is a major surgery, so it's possible that problems can happen during or after the surgery. The question that's asked most often is, "Can I die from this surgery?"
Like any major surgery, there is a risk of death for those who donate part of their liver. Fortunately, this risk is small. The current risk of death is about 1 out of 500 liver donation surgeries.
The following sections describe some of the different kinds of minor and major complications that can happen during and after this surgery. This article doesn't cover all of the risks related to anesthesia. Your anesthesia care team can talk to you about those specific risks in more detail.

Minor Liver Donation Surgery Complications

Some potential minor problems that can happen with liver donation include, but are not limited to:
  • Nausea and vomiting for several days after the surgery
  • Pain at the incision site
  • Allergic reactions
  • Minor bleeding at the incision site
  • Abnormal scar formation
  • Temporary jaundice, which is a yellow color to the skin and eyes
  • Delayed return of intestinal function -- which happens in about 1 out of 10 cases.
In most cases, these minor problems don't last more than a week or so, and your healthcare providers can usually take care of them.
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