There are currently only enough organs from deceased donors available for about one-third of the more than 17,000 people on the national liver transplant waiting list. About 20% of patients on the liver waiting list do not have the opportunity to receive a deceased donor organ. Unfortunately, there are not enough organs to meet the demand, but at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, you have other options, including live donor liver transplantation.
We have the largest live donor liver transplant program in the United States. Dr. Roger Jenkins performed the first successful live donor liver transplantation in New England in 1998. Since then, we have performed more than 300 live donor liver transplantations for adult recipients. We are also the live donor team for live donor liver transplantation for pediatric recipients at Boston Children’s Hospital.
We started the robotic liver, pancreas and bile duct surgery program in 2017, and performed our first totally robotic live donor liver surgery in 2018. We are currently the only center in the United States offering this minimally-invasive operation.
Benefits of Live Liver Donation
Live donor liver transplantation is possible because the liver, unique among solid organs in humans, can regenerate. This means that when part of a liver is removed from you, as a live donor, the portion that remains in your body will regenerate to its original volume, and the portion transplanted to the recipient will regenerate as well.
Live donor liver transplantation is an elective procedure which means we are able to schedule the liver transplantation when the recipient is in the best possible health and least likely to have complications. The recipient can avoid the continued physical deterioration that inevitably occurs while waiting for a suitable liver replacement.
Patients are usually able to have a live donor liver transplant sooner than waiting for a deceased donor. In addition, by avoiding the use of a liver from a deceased donor, live donor liver transplantation helps to shorten the waiting list and allows another patient on that list to get an organ. Therefore, a live donor can save two lives with their gift.
If you are considering becoming a donor, our team evaluates you and helps you make an informed decision about the risks. A thorough live donor evaluation process ensures that every live donor is suitable for major surgery, and their liver is suitable for donation. We continue to follow up with you after the procedure to make sure you stay healthy.