Living Donor Transplant
In living donor liver transplantation, one of the two lobes of the liver (the liver has a right and left lobe) is removed from a healthy living donor (Kelly) and is then transplanted into the recipient (me). The procedure, which will be performed after they remove my diseased liver, is possible because the liver can completely regenerate to its original size. In fact, the liver is the only organ in the body that will regenerate (think of a lizards tail). The liver’s unique ability to regenerate itself will allow me to receive a liver transplant before I become deathly ill (which is the case in most cadaver liver donations).
Both Kelly’s remaining portion of her liver and my newly transplanted piece of liver will regenerate in a short period, anywhere from 1 week-3 months. During the transplant, they will remove both of our gall bladders to make room for our pieces of liver to regenerate. The surgery can last anywhere from 5-12 hours. Kelly is expected to be out in 5-7 days and I could be out in 7-10 days (as long as there are no complications, which there WON’T be!) Kelly should be back to normal in 4-12 weeks and I will probably take 6 weeks to… I’ve heard anywhere from 3 months to sometimes even 6 months. However, I have age on my side and I really believe that will play a big part in a quicker recovery.
Why A Living Donor?
Having a living donor will reduce my wait time and improve the chances of transplant success as I will be healthier going into it. Also, the liver itself will be “fresher” because it won’t need to be on ice (being on ice can cause complications), the liver goes from one operating room to the other in a matter of minutes! Another benefit is knowing when the transplant will take place (rather than waiting for that phone call saying, “get here now we have a liver for you”). I’m also really thankful that it is my sister’s liver, I know her and I love her, she is my best friend.
Becoming A Match
In order for Kelly to be a match, she needed to be the same blood type and basically be healthy (that’s the short version, ie 18-55yo, same body type, non-smoker, etc, etc) She has had to have:
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
Abdominal CAT scan
For more information, this is my blog post after my pre-op appointment with my surgeon. He thoroughly answered all of our questions and I have documented the answers. Remember, these are specific to my sister and I, your transplant center may not do things differently.
Transplant Surgeon Answers My Questions