The first live donor liver transplant in Wisconsin was performed at Froedtert Hospital in 1999. In 2013, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) certified our Live Donor Liver Transplant Program. Our liver transplant experts continue their leadership in live liver donation, helping shorten wait times and increase the patient’s access to liver transplant. Our experience and expertise offer the recipient and the live donor excellent outcomes and long-term quality of life.
Live liver donation is possible because of the liver’s unique ability to regrow. A portion of the liver is removed surgically from the live donor and implanted in the recipient. Once there, the liver segment grows and almost immediately assumes the functions of a whole and healthy liver. The liver will regrow to almost its normal size in three months.
Learn how to become a live liver transplant donor.
Live Donation Advantages
Transplanting a liver from a live donor offers several advantages over transplanting a deceased donor’s liver.
- The transplant can take place in a scheduled, timely manner.
- There is less time between liver donation and implantation, so the donated liver is healthier.
- Donor testing leads to better recipient matching and less chance of rejection.
- Wait times can be reduced, allowing a transplant to occur when the recipient is at a lower Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score. The MELD score is used to assess the severity of chronic liver disease and prioritize patients on the waiting list.
- In general, waiting list morbidity and mortality decreases when a live donor liver is transplanted.
- Recipients, often related to the donor, tend to have a sense of gratitude for the donation that motivates them to take better long-term care of themselves.
Experts in Live Liver Donor Care
Froedtert Hospital offers live liver donors exceptional outcomes, outstanding care and life-long transplant care support. Our live donor liver transplant coordinators arrange care and appointments, provide support and answer questions throughout the decision to donate, surgery and recovery.
After surgery, donors are cared for on a hospital unit dedicated to transplant patients. Our transplant coordinators provide support for years after surgery and are a life-long resource for donors. Learn more about the liver donor experience.
Who Can be a Live Liver Donor
Live liver donor candidates undergo extensive testing to make sure they are medically and psychologically appropriate to donate a portion of their liver. From a financial perspective, the recipient’s insurance carrier will pay for the evaluation, hospitalization, surgery and follow-up care.
Transplant and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Transplant patients may be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, and we have seen worse outcomes if they do get it. Due to the increased risk, we recommend transplant patients get the vaccine.