Liver Organ Donation

Living-Donor Liver Transplants

What is a living-donor liver transplant?

A living-donor liver transplant is a process where a living person donates a portion of their liver to a patient who needs a liver transplant.

A living donor is a healthy person who donates a part of their liver for transplant into the patient with liver disease (the recipient). The liver is an organ that can regrow fairly quickly, with most of the regrowth happening within a few weeks of the surgery. How much of the liver is removed will depend on the patient and their needs, as well as their age.

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Living donation is vital for saving the lives of patients who are waiting for a liver transplant. Patients who are on the transplant waitlist often wait a very long time, and many die, before getting a transplant. Living donation is a way to reach more patients, with a procedure that provides a healthier organ (that of a living person), and better outcomes for the patient as well as a fast recovery for the donor.

The surgeries are done on the same day and are timed so the donated liver tissue is outside the body as briefly as possible.

How does Seattle Children’s perform a living-donor liver transplant?

Seattle Children’s performs the procedure for the transplant recipient and handles all aspects of their care. Our first transplant of this type was in 1999, and we have completed hundreds of liver transplants since then.

We partner with the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC), which handles the care of the living donor. This includes a thorough health evaluation, as well as providing information about the safety and risks of the donor’s surgery. It is important for the person donating to have a separate care team to ensure a successful and safe donation. This also keeps the donation evaluation private so that the potential donor can change their mind at any time.

UWMC has the only living-donor program in the Northwest approved by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Who is a candidate for a living-donor liver transplant?

Every patient’s needs are different. The team at Seattle Children’s can talk with you about your child’s specific situation and whether a living-donor transplant is an option for your child.

Who can be a living donor?

To be considered for living donation, a person must be an adult and volunteer freely and meet specific health requirements. If someone wants to volunteer to be a living donor for a patient in our care, they should contact the Living Donor Liver Transplant Program at UWMC to learn more or fill out this questionnaire to sign up.

UNOS also provides information for people thinking about living donation.

What are ways to support those waiting for a living-donor liver transplant?

Becoming a living-donor liver transplant advocate.

Anyone who is willing to help a transplant candidate can become an advocate. If you know someone who is waiting on the national waitlist for a liver transplant and you want to help them find a living donor, start by reviewing Seattle Children’s Liver Transplant Program Living Donor Advocacy Toolkit.

The toolkit was developed to help you become more knowledgeable about living donation, communicate about the process of becoming a living donor and provide you with clear and simple ways to help a transplant candidate find a donor.

Raising awareness about donation and spreading the word about someone’s need for a donor is one of the best ways that you can help someone access the life-saving donation they need.

Seattle Children’s Liver Transplant Program Living Donor Advocacy Toolkit      UW Living Donor Transplant   

For resources on financial support for yourself or a loved one awaiting a living donor liver transplant, visit the National Living Donor Assistance Center.

In the News

A man, woman, daughter and two sons smile happily as they sit together on a log in a fieldSeattle Children’s asks people to consider living organ donation this Giving Tuesday
Nov. 29, 2022

Source: KING5