Living-donor liver transplantation

Nearly 1 in 8 Americans on the liver transplant waiting list will die before receiving an organ. Another nearly 1 in 6 is removed from the list because they are too sick. To provide these people more options, Mayo Clinic offers three living-donor programs: Living Liver Donation Program, Liver Paired Donation Program, and Living Liver Non-Directed Donation Program.

People who have previously donated a kidney may participate in these programs by donating a portion of their liver.

Living Liver Donation Program

Because the liver can regenerate itself, surgeons need to transplant just a portion of the organ for treatment. That means, similar to living kidney donation, healthy people can donate part of their liver to a person who needs a liver transplant. The procedure is becoming more common in the U.S., with the number of procedures doubling in 2019. Though living donation transplants still only make up less than 10% of all liver transplants performed, the procedure may offer more options to people with terminal liver disease. (Learn more about Mayo Clinic and the living-donor process.)

In the Living Liver Donation Program, the donor specifies a recipient. Donors and recipients are evaluated by the Transplant Multidisciplinary Team to ensure best outcomes and confirm that they match. The team includes a hepatologist, surgeon, advanced practitioner, nurse coordinator, psychiatrist, social worker, independent living-donor advocate and others as needed.

Living liver donors must be 25 to 59 years old.

Liver Paired Donation Program

Sometimes, a donor wants to donate a partial liver to a specific person, but they don't match. These pairs can enter the In the Liver Paired Donation Program, which matches the donor with a different recipient in the program. Then, when an organ comes available that matches the donor's original designee, that person receives it. (Learn more about Mayo Clinic and paired donation.)

Donors in the Liver Paired Donation Program must be 21 to 59 years old.

Living Liver Non-Directed Donation Program

In the Living Liver Non-Directed Donation Program, the donor doesn't specify a recipient. The first priority is to match the nondirected donor to a transplant candidate active in the Mayo Clinic Paired Liver Donation Program. If a match is found among this group of recipients, the non-directed donor could benefit multiple recipients.

If a match can't be found in the paired liver program, the donation will go to a recipient on the United Network for Organ Sharing/Organ Procurement Transplant Network deceased-donor waiting list at Mayo Clinic-Rochester. Preference is given to recipients who will benefit the most. This may be based on age, size and/or likelihood of getting a deceased donor in the future.

Non-directed donors must be 25 to 59 years old.

Aug. 23, 2023