Pediatric Liver Transplant FAQ for Donors

Since an individual has just one liver, how can a living person donate the organ?

In living donor liver transplant, only a portion of the liver, not the whole organ, is removed for transplantation. The liver, like the skin, can regenerate itself. Remarkably, the removed portion is replaced with new, fully functional tissue in six to eight weeks. The transplant team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and Stanford Health Care has been performing living donor transplants since 1995 with excellent results.

Who can donate a liver?

If you are interested in becoming a living donor, please speak to the liver transplant team. A suitable donor is an individual who is in good physical and mental health, is older than 18, and is younger than 55. To see if you are a good candidate, speak to one of our doctors or transplant coordinators.

An important factor in selecting a donor is that the patient has an established relationship with the donor. Some examples include relatives, both close and distant, and close family friends. We do not accept anonymous donors. We are happy to discuss the possibility of donation with you in person. Become a living liver transplant donor >

What evaluations does a living donor candidate have to undergo before donation?

The living donor evaluation is extensive and takes an average of two days to complete. This consists of the following:

  • Completing an online medical questionnaire.
  • Blood tests, including liver function tests and infectious disease testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C.
  • An EKG and chest x-ray.
  • A 3-D MRI or CT scan to look at the anatomy and size of the liver. This will help us determine whether the portion being donated will fit the recipient
  • A dietary consult.
  • A social worker consult.
  • An independent living donor advocate consult, which is a thorough screening to make sure the candidate understands the risks of the procedure, is donating of his or her free will, and has adequate support for after the surgery.
  • A hepatology consult.
  • A transplant surgery consult.
  • Other consults as deemed necessary by the transplant team

After the tests and consultations are completed, a committee of transplant team members will discuss the medical and social details of the evaluation and decide on the suitability of the donor. The Living Donor Coordinator will advise the donor of any test results and the decision of the transplant team. The living donor team and the recipient team are separate, ensuring that all information concerning the donor is kept in strict confidence and will not be disclosed to the recipient.

What kind of a postoperative period can the donor expect?

The donor usually spends five to seven days in the hospital. Most patients are up and out of bed (with assistance) by the second postoperative day. The donor usually needs to stay off work and suspend usual home activities for approximately four to six weeks after surgery, depending on the course of the recovery. We are pleased to offer a leading-edge 3-D laparoscopic hepatectomy option for living donor surgeries.

What is the required follow-up after donation?

After discharge, the living donor will be seen in clinic within two weeks for a general post-op check. After this check, the donor will be seen again at six weeks, six months, one year, and two years after donation. This is both a Stanford requirement and a UNOS requirement, and will include a physician visit and new blood tests.

To learn more about living donation, please contact the Living Donor Coordinator at (650) 724-5672. Become a living liver transplant donor >