Mayo Clinic transplant doctors, surgeons and other transplant staff members have extensive experience with living donation for kidney and liver transplants.
Mayo Clinic surgeons perform living-donor transplant surgery for liver transplant and kidney transplant. In addition to donating living organs, you also may donate bone marrow for a bone marrow transplant.
Living kidney donation has been used in transplantation for more than 50 years. Many studies have shown that kidney donation is safe in the short and long term after surgery.
However, you'll need to have surgery to donate a kidney, and you'll then be exposed to some risks. To minimize risks, you'll need to have extensive testing to ensure you're eligible to donate a kidney. Living kidney donors are generally not at an increased risk of kidney failure in the future.
The risks of living liver donation are also low, but experience with this procedure is more limited because it was introduced into medical practice more recently than was kidney donation. Living liver donation may involve risks such as surgical complications or acute liver failure. Deaths after donation have occurred rarely.
A multidisciplinary transplant team will evaluate you to determine if you're a candidate to be a living donor. Different transplant team members will perform evaluations and surgeries for you and your recipient.
During an evaluation, your transplant team has several goals. The team will evaluate your general physical and mental health to make sure that undergoing living-donor surgery offers few risks for you.
Also, during the evaluation the team will check to ensure that the organ you're planning to donate is healthy and that removing either one of your kidneys or a portion of your liver is unlikely to cause health problems later in life.
You'll have blood tests to determine if your blood and tissue types are compatible with the organ recipient.
Transplant staff will interview you, and you'll need to provide your medical history. You'll also have a thorough physical examination and psychological evaluation. Your evaluation is confidential.
Doctors will perform tests to look for pre-existing conditions that may disqualify you from being a donor, such as diabetes, cancer, some infectious diseases, heart diseases or other conditions.
Several other tests, including detailed imaging of your liver or kidneys, will be performed to ensure that you're in good health and you meet donation criteria. If you're a potential liver donor, doctors will review your imaging tests to determine if the size of your liver is the appropriate size for the recipient.
Transplant staff will discuss with you and your family the benefits and risks of donating a kidney or a portion of your liver and answer your questions. Staff will also discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and after donating an organ.
Donating an organ is a gift that can improve the quality of life or possibly save the life of the organ recipient. However, you also should consider the potential risks of donating an organ, such as surgical complications, organ failure and psychological problems.
If you're a liver donor, you should consider the potential risks of surgical complications in living liver donation surgery. Liver transplant surgery is a complex surgery that involves risks of surgical complications for the recipient, and it isn't always successful.
If possible, bring a family member or friend with you for your evaluation and surgery. It may be helpful for you to discuss your decision to donate with a family member or friend.
If you're committed to donating an organ, your transplant team will partner with you and your local health care provider throughout the living-donor transplantation process. Your team will also be available to answer any questions you have about the donation process.
Living donation is a complicated process. Transplant staff understands and expects you to have many questions. Doctors and other staff are available to answer your questions.