Charles Rosen, M.D., transplant surgeon at Mayo Clinic, discusses living liver donation, including the evaluation process, risks, and recovery. Liver transplantation enables recipients to enjoy prolonged survival with an excellent quality of life. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough deceased donor livers for everyone in need. Living liver donation could enable a patient to undergo transplantation much sooner than would otherwise be possible, helping the recipient avoid possible suffering and even death while on the liver transplant waiting list. At Mayo Clinic, prospective donors undergo an extensive evaluation process to ensure they are in excellent health and that their liver anatomy is suitable. Because we understand the decision to donate your liver can be very difficult, we do everything we can to provide the answers and privacy potential donors need to make a decision. The living liver donor operation is done at the same time as the recipient’s transplant surgery. Donors are admitted to the hospital the morning of the operation, undergo the procedure, and are observed in the intensive care unit overnight. Donors can expect to be hospitalized for about a week following the operation. Donors are instructed to restrain from strenuous physical activity and heavy lifting for about 8 weeks following the procedure. Growing the liver back requires a lot of energy, so donors feel considerable fatigue. After about 3 months, donors should feel completely normal again. At Mayo Clinic, we are committed to helping donors enjoy a full recovery and return to all normal activities.
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