British Liver Trust
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I'm new here....Please advise on live donation

Hi, I would like to find out more on the possibility of donating half my liver to my mum, she has hep c and ccirrosis and has already undertaken several episodes of chemo to reduce a large liver tumour.

I have to admit I am totally ignorant as to how to even begin such a process, and after reading some of posts on here it sounds like the first option is for a whole liver,even if chances are it'll be rejected. Would it not be better to offer half a liver that's a good match, than a whole one that stands more chance of rejection?

Assuming mine is healthy enough and a good enough match isn't this an option worth consideration?

5 Replies

First off is your mother on the transplant list? Secondly it is possible to donate half your liver, but there are so many things to take into consideration. It's not just as easy as saying I will give her half


Hi there, yes, agreeing with with jojo. She must be on the list first. And cancer can often stop that. There's a rule about the size of a tumor. Half your liver does seem like a lot. Possibly something else? We were just speaking about this to a woman who has a friend who wants to do a live donation. Another thing, surgeons prefer a whole liver from a donor who has died. I think often people hear about kidney donations, but they are much easier. The liver is considered extremely risky. What do her doctors say?

Also, has she had the new treatment for Hep C?

I'm so sorry your mum is ill. I know you want to help..

She would need to be in the transplant list first and foremost.

Do you know if she is?

Good luck!


A lot of factors would come into play:-

(1) your mum would first of all have to be on the transplant list for a donor liver in the usual way - live donation isn't a way of avoiding this bit of the process and surgeons will ALWAYS prefer to go the cadaveric liver route due to the risk to live donor.

(2) your liver would have to be a match i.e. blood group plus be of sufficient size and healthy enough to be able to split. You as the donor would go through horrendous abdominal surgery too and have the risk of bleeding plus all the usual trauma that any surgery brings (and this is massive surgery).

(3) Is your mum dependent on you for help? How will she & you get to follow up appointments which will generally weekly for first 6 or so weeks then reducing gradually? Neither of you will be able to drive, lift anything and such like for some time afterwards, both of you would need someone to care for you in the immediate post surgery period (and for some weeks).

There are ALOT of dilemmas involved and the assessment process for live donation is very lengthy and thorough as you need to be both mentally and physically healthy (you basically go through same assessment as your mum would for transplant PLUS some more indepthy psychological stuff).

When my husband was listed for transplant we were told that due to his small size he could accept a split liver or a live liver donation. However all the rest of his family have other health issues so were ruled out, hubby and I discussed whether I should get tested to see if I was suitable but we quickly ruled it out because (a) he relies on me for driving, lifting and general support all of which I wouldn't be able to do if I was going through the same type of recovery process as him (b) due to the risks of the surgery - what if he made it but I didn't? He just wouldn't hear of it! (c) what happens further down the line with your own health, you'll have lost your gall bladder and although your liver does regenerate to full size in an amazingly quick period of time no one knows what the after effects of this massive surgery would be.

It isn't a shortened route to transplant and even with a bit of your liver your mum would still have the same risk of rejection and would need the drug regime as normal plus the added complications of a non straightforward 'plumbing' job stemming from the partial transplant.

We attend Edinburgh which I believe was the first UK unit to pioneer live transplant and they have a page & leaflet all about the process which I think you should read [ . ] Unless your mum is on the normal list though live transplant isn't yet an option.

Wishing you both all the very best, Katie x

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Good points above. Another point to address is your concern about rejection. With the liver only the blood group is important, perhaps genetics might make a small difference but the immunosuppressive suppressants used these days are really good and it would probably not be a factor.

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Just to add to the advice already given, post transplant (if one were to take place) the active Hep C would need to be treated or the new liver will be attacked - an added complication is once the patient is on anti-rejection drugs post transplant, there is nothing to defend the liver against the Hep C virus and it tends to be more aggressive than before.

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