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Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant -- The Donor's Perspective

What Are the Benefits of Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant for the Donor?

It's important to know that there are no direct medical benefits to you as a liver donor. Your health will not improve. However, there are some potential indirect benefits. During the evaluation process, your healthcare team may find that you have certain medical conditions that you didn't know about before. This can be important to your future health. If a condition is discovered, your transplant team will let you and your primary care provider know. As an additional benefit, some donors also find that they have an increased self-esteem after donating part of their liver.
 
While these are possible benefits, liver donors also face risks. Some of these are minor; some can be more serious. A few of the more common risks of this surgery include:
 
  • Bile leakage
  • Pressure damage to the nerves and skin
  • A slow return to normal intestinal function
  • Hernia
  • Infection.
     
A few of the more rare, but serious, risks can include:
 
  • Liver failure, meaning that you would need a liver transplant yourself
  • Death, which happens in about 1 out of every 500 liver donation surgeries in the United States.
     
Nationwide, the overall risk for problems, both minor and major, is low and occurs in about 2 out of every 7 cases. Most of these problems are minor and get better on their own. Major problems happen in fewer than 1 out of 10 surgeries.
 
A few people who donate other organs (such as a kidney) have emotional or psychological problems after their surgery. These problems are usually only temporary. Since living donor liver transplantation is still a fairly new surgery, the exact percentage of liver donors who will have these problems is unknown.
 
You can read more detail about the surgery itself, its risks, and possible benefits by going to any of the following eMedTV articles:
 
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