Benefits and Risks of Living Donation


Living-donor liver transplant helps save the life of a child with end-stage liver disease and can improve the quality of life for a child with metabolic disease. Other benefits include the following:

  • It increases the number of organs available for children who are on the transplant waiting list.
  • Donors can feel good knowing that they've had a tremendous impact on the life of a child.
  • Transplant recipients may have improved long-term outcomes, because they are receiving a portion of a healthy donor's liver.


Surgery of any kind carries basic risks. Serious complications are rare, but they can happen. The world-renowned liver transplant surgeons at the Starzl Transplantation Institute where adult donor transplant surgery is performed have experience with complex cases, reducing the risk for serious complications during surgery.

Possible risks associated with living-donor liver transplant surgery may include:

  • Bile leakage — this occurs in a small subset of liver donors and most often resolves itself. Doctors can also aid the healing process by placing a tube in the liver.
  • Infection — some liver donors may get an infection at the site of surgery. If this happens, our transplant team will watch over your condition to reduce health issues.
  • Organ damage or other problems — liver donation can also cause organ damage, heart problems, blood clots, stroke, or even death in extremely rare cases. 

It is on a rare occasion that a complication would occur during the living-donor liver transplant procedure that would require further corrective surgery or medical treatments.

If you’re interested in becoming a living donor and would like to discuss your eligibility, please contact the UPMC Liver Transplant Program today.