The Liver Surgical Team at Tulane Transplant Institute has extensive experience in living donor partial-liver transplants.  Because the liver is able to regenerate itself, surgeons can remove a small portion of a donor’s healthy liver and transplant it into the recipient.

One advantage to a living partial-liver transplant is that the surgery can be performed before the recipient’s health declines significantly, which increases the recipient’s life expectancy and overall quality of life.

Becoming a living liver donor at Tulane Medical Center is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.

Volunteering to be a living donor is a generous act. The transplant waiting list continues to grow, outpacing the available organs from deceased donors. Donating a piece of your liver is a major decision, and no one should feel pressured into acting as a living donor. Potential donors should be sure to carefully consider their decision.

Living Liver Donor FAQs

What indicates a good match?

The most successful matches come from immediate family members since they share many similar genes. However, matches are possible from extended family, friends, coworkers, and even altruistic donors. The success rate of living liver transplantation, no matter what the relationship, is significantly greater than those from deceased donors.

Who pays for the living donor’s tests and surgery?

The recipient’s insurance will pay for the workup process, surgery and post-surgery clinic visits. Donors are responsible for their own transportation, lodging and any lost wages. Tulane’s transplant navigators are available to answer any questions related to expenses and potential financial resources.

What is the next step after a successful match?

One of our transplant coordinators will schedule a surgery date that is convenient for you. Usually, a donor will be seen a few days before surgery for final evaluations and tests to ensure that his or her liver is functioning correctly.

What can donors expect before and after the operation?

The donor is taken to the operating room where a general anesthetic is used throughout the surgery. The donor will have a small section of their healthy liver removed through an incision in the upper abdomen. Immediately afterward, the liver section is taken into another operating room to be transplanted in the recipient. The donor procedure usually lasts about five hours.

What happens during the recovery time?

Recovery can be different for each patient. The donor is usually hospitalized for three-to-five days. Donors typically return to work four weeks after the surgery. All heavy lifting and strenuous activity should be avoided for about four weeks. The donor's liver typically regenerates back to its normal size and function with a few months of surgery.

Do I risk losing my job by being a living donor?

No – according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Labor, individuals who choose to donate an organ are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and do not have to fear losing their job. Organ donation qualifies as a “serious medical condition,” since donors require hospital stays and inpatient care.

How do I learn more about becoming a living liver donor at Tulane Medical Center?

Call the Tulane Transplant Institute at (504) 988-5344 and ask to speak with the Living Donor Coordinator.