Living-Donor Liver Transplant Frequently Asked Questions

How do I begin the liver transplant process?

To be evaluated for a liver transplant by the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at Childtren's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, your doctor will need to refer your child to our Pediatric Liver Transplant Program. If we are already managing your child's medical condition, your doctor will discuss transplant with you at the appropriate time.

To schedule an appointment or request a consultation to discuss a child’s liver condition, contact us at 412-692-6110 or send an email to livertransplant@chp.edu.

How do I talk to people about being a living-donor?

The best way to find willing donors is to share your story. Begin with family and friends, co-workers and church members. People in your social groups. Our staff will help you with tips and information you can share with people about living organ donation.

Who can be a liver donor?

To become a living donor, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 55
  • Be in general good health and and have no history of liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, cancers, or other diseases that could complicate surgery
  • Meet all other living donor eligibility requirements

At Children's Hospital, our team of liver transplant experts will assess your health to ensure that organ donation poses the least possible risk.

Do I need to have a compatible blood type to be a donor?

No. Historically, this was the case, but with advances in liver transplant, donors do not always need to be a blood group match.

Do I need to be related to the recipient to be a donor?

Donors do not need to be related to a liver transplant recipient. Donors can be friends, co-workers, church members, or neighbors. In some cases, patients may not even know their donors.

Who pays my medical costs for the for liver donation surgery?

Donors are not responsible for medical costs for the transplant surgery. However, you may be responsible for co-pays for pre-transplant health maintenance tests such as a Pap smear, mammography, colonoscopy, PSA testing, and dental exam. These tests are required to make sure you're a suitable candidate for donation. Since these tests are routine health maintenance they will be billed to your insurance provider.

We strongly recommend that you have your testing done at a UPMC facility. This will make sure that we have fast and easy access to your results, which helps our Transplant Team to keep the transplant process moving. All bills for donor evaluation testing should be directed to UPMC Transplant Services for processing.

After organ donation surgery, UNOS requires that organ donors have routine follow up testing 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after the donation. The UPMC Transplant Team will order this testing for you and help with scheduling. You are not financially responsible for these tests. Again, we strongly recommend that you have your testing done at a UPMC facility to avoid unnecessary bills.

How do I become a donor?

To become a donor to a patient already receiving treatment at Children's Hospital, you will be connected with the patient's transplant team. You can also call us at 412-648-3200 to find out more about the living donation process.

Should I stop drinking alcohol before liver donation?

Alcohol use does not exclude you from being a liver donor, but you should stop drinking alcohol before the evaluation. Your Transplant Coordinator can tell you how long you should avoid alcohol before the surgery. You should not begin drinking alcohol after the surgery until your doctor tells you it is safe.

How soon can I see my child after liver donation?

If you are a parent donating part of your liver to your child, your surgery will take place at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital while your child's surgery will occur at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. The hospitals are approximately 2 miles apart.

We offer video conferencing between hospitals so you can see and speak to your child a day or two following surgery. We'll provide every possible assistance to connect you to your child as you both recover.

How long does it take to recover from liver donation surgery?

Everyone recovers at a different rate. You can expect to stay in the hospital about a week recovering from surgery. Most people return to work and normal activities within 2 or 3 months, depending upon the physical demands of your job.