Definition of Living donor liver transplantation

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Living donor liver transplantation: An option for patients who need a liver transplant. In this procedure, a healthy person (usually a family member, friend or co-worker) donates a portion of their liver to the transplant patient. One of the two lobes of the donor's liver is removed. The recipient's damaged liver is also removed. The healthy liver lobe is then attached in the place from which the recipient's liver was removed. There it begins rapidly to regenerate healthy liver tissue. The donor's liver also quickly regenerates and continues to function normally. Both operations are performed at the same time in different operating rooms. There are several advantages of living donor liver transplants. The surgery can be scheduled. (About one in six persons who need a new liver dies while waiting for one.) The surgery can be done before the recipient becomes extremely ill. Living donor liver transplantation usually leads to fewer complications, faster recovery and better long-term results than a transplant from a cadaver. However, the procedure is not risk-free for the donor. The risk of the donor dying is about 1 in 350. There is also a 10% risk to the donor of complications including bile leaks, bleeding and infections. Also see: Liver transplant.


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