Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant -- The Donor's Perspective
It can be hard to understand the steps involved in an adult living donor liver transplant; the donor's perspective of the procedure is perhaps the simplest way to explain what happens before, during, and after the surgery. It usually takes 6 to 8 hours, and about 40 to 60 percent of the liver is removed. There are no direct medical benefits to you as a donor, and your health will not improve.
Directly before the donation surgery, you will be given general anesthesia, which puts you into a deep sleep. A large incision, or cut, will then be made in your abdomen, about 2 fingerwidths below the rib cage. The length of your incision will depend on your body size, but it's usually about 15 inches for the average person.
Then a section of your liver (usually about 40 to 60 percent) will be removed. Your doctor will leave the other section, or "lobe," still functioning inside you. The gallbladder is usually removed and discarded. You can lead a normal life without your gallbladder.
Your doctor will repair the cut parts of the remaining lobe, and once satisfied that the liver is working properly, he or she will close the incision with stitches and/or surgical staples. The area is then covered with a bandage.
The entire adult living donor liver transplant surgery takes about 6 to 8 hours.
Most people stay in the hospital for 4 to 8 days after donating part of their liver, and then continue to recover at home for another 4 to 6 weeks. You will also have a few followup appointments with your healthcare team after the surgery. During the next 1 to 2 months, the liver usually returns to its normal size and function.