Liver Donation Evaluation
A liver donation evaluation is the initial step in becoming a donor. Donors must meet certain criteria to donate, and this evaluation helps ensure that these requirements are met. Requirements generally include being in good health, having the right blood type, and having a liver large enough to support you and the recipient. Tests used as part of the liver donation evaluation include ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI.
Going through the liver donation evaluation process doesn't guarantee that you will be able to donate part of your liver. Only people who meet certain requirements are able to donate. These criteria include:
- Being in good health
- Having the right blood type
- Having a liver that's the right size -- it has to be large enough to support both you and the recipient.
There are several steps in the liver donation evaluation process, each more involved or complex than the one before it. This is so that you don't have more tests than you really need. In the first step, your healthcare provider will test your blood to make sure it is compatible with the recipient's blood type (see Blood Tests for Liver Donation). This is because the donated liver section won't work correctly if the blood types aren't a good match.
If your blood type is a good match, you can enter the second part of the evaluation process, which is a series of tests to determine your overall health. In this step, your provider will talk to you about your health history and do a physical examination. You will also have blood draws, urine tests, a chest x-ray, and an electrocardiogram or EKG. An EKG measures the electrical activity of your heart to see how well it's working (see EKG for Liver Donation).
At some point, you will be tested for diseases that can be spread to other people through contact with your blood, such as HIV or AIDS, hepatitis, and syphilis. Depending on where you live, if you have one or more of these diseases, your transplant center may have to report this to the state Board of Health.
The most important factor of this stage of the liver donor evaluation is your health. Liver donors need to be healthy enough to have a major surgery with as little risk as possible.