Skip to main content
Find a DoctorGet Care Now
Skip to main content
Search icon magnifying glass







Living Liver Donation FAQ

Who can be a living liver donor? Does it have to be a relative?

Anyone age 21 to 55 can be considered for living liver donation at our center. On rare occasions we will consider persons age 18 to 20 or 56 to 60; however, these are usually special circumstances. Donors do not need to be related. It is becoming common for unrelated people to come forward and donate a portion of their liver to someone in need.

How do I know if I am a match?

We perform extensive testing between you and your intended recipient to assure compatibility. Important considerations are blood type, liver size, and the anatomy of the bile ducts, arteries and veins in the liver.

What can I expect from the evaluation process?

Your living donor coordinator will schedule you for a series of tests and a visit to our Living Donor Evaluation Clinic. After your evaluation a Donor Advocacy Panel – a team of transplant professionals – will review your evaluation and determine if it is safe for you to proceed to donation.

What is a donor advocate?

A donor advocate is a medical professional dedicated to advocating on your behalf with the goal to provide you with support and assure you have control of and are comfortable with your decision, regardless of whether you donate. You should feel free to talk confidentially with your donor advocate about anything, including if you are feeling pressured to donate or if you have decided not to donate but don’t know how to best express your wishes. The Center for Living Organ Donors maintains confidentiality of your donor information. The donor advocate is also your representative at the Donor Advocacy Panel and can convey your feelings, motivations or concerns regarding donation.

How long does it take from starting the evaluation to approval?

In general, it takes two to four weeks from your first evaluation day to the decision on whether you are approved to donate.

What are some reasons the Donor Advocacy Panel would not allow me to donate?

The most common reasons the Donor Advocacy Panel would not allow you to donate is if your testing shows that your liver anatomy puts you at an increased risk of complications or we find that you have an increased risk of blood clotting. Other reasons could include a physical or mental health illness or unstable social situation that, with donating, would add undue risk to you.

May I donate if the Donor Advocacy Panel says no?

No, as this decision has been made in the interest of your safety. However, you are free to get a second opinion from another center. We can facilitate transfer of your medical information to a center of your choice.

If I donate, how long will I be in the hospital and what is the anticipated recovery from surgery?

Most donors will stay in the hospital four to six days and then are discharged home. Individuals differ in recovery time; we recommend allowing yourself six to eight weeks minimum, potentially 12 weeks after surgery to recover fully and return to work.

Are there any restrictions during my recovery period?

The primary restriction is no heavy lifting, nothing greater than 25 pounds for 12 weeks after surgery. We want you to be active and walk daily. We advise you not to drive for at least the first two to three weeks after the surgery. If you live out of state, we will require you to stay locally for two weeks.

How long before my liver grows back to normal size?

The liver begins to regenerate almost immediately, with most of the regeneration occurring in the first two weeks after surgery. The expectation is that by eight weeks after surgery your liver will be back to normal or near normal size.

What is the follow-up after surgery?

We see donors one week after surgery and as needed for follow-up. We are also required by United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) to see you at the six-month, one-year and two-year mark after your donation. These are mandatory visits. However, if you live far away, we can arrange for you to send us the needed information. This information is important to assure your health and provides a national database for us to identify any problems with the donation process.

transplant patient story

Caitlin and Sophie’s Story

These two women share a bond through a liver transplant. Video courtesy of American Liver Foundation.

David Mulligan, MD

Living Organ Donor Registration