What are the risks and complications of living donor liver donation?
There are risks to all surgeries performed under general anesthesia. Surgical risks include:
- Bile leaks
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage
Common complications for the donor include:
- Fatigue due to the large amount of liver that is removed
- Small bile leaks from the cut surface in the remaining liver
- Wound infections
- Gastrointestinal upset (constipation, occasional nausea and diarrhea), which usually go away in a few weeks
- Hernia at the incision site
There is a small risk that the liver may not regenerate or that the remaining liver fails, in which case an emergency liver transplantation may be required.
The risk of death is 1 in every 1000 liver donors for a left lobe donation and 4 to 6 in every 1000 for a right lobe donation.
What are the benefits to the recipient of receiving a living donor liver compared to a liver received from a deceased donor?
Among the benefits are:
- The waiting time to receive a liver is short.
- Patient can receive a liver transplant before he or she becomes too sick. (The waiting time is long for obtaining a deceased donor if the patient has a low MELD or PELD [scoring system for children under 12] score. Also, there is a significant risk of death or of becoming too sick while waiting regardless of MELD score.)
- A liver from a living donor typically lasts longer than a liver from a deceased donor.
- Transplant surgery can be schedule on a convenient day for both you and your donor.
- Better chance of survival. The liver from a healthy, living liver donor is transplanted within minutes of being removed from the donor.