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Pre-Donation Evaluation: Living-Donor Liver Transplant

Prior to clearing you as a living-liver donor, UPMC's transplant team will perform an extensive clinical and psychological evaluation. This will ensure you have no medical conditions or issues that would cause special risks or complications during the surgery.

What Can I Expect During My Living-Donor Liver Evaluation?

Your liver transplant team will explain the upcoming tests and any potential risks, as well as the living-donor liver surgery itself.

Physical and psychosocial exams for potential liver donors

  • Initial history and physical exam to ensure you have no identifiable medical problems or history.
  • Psychiatry visit to confirm you are able to handle the physical and emotional changes associated with liver donation.
  • Social work visit to review plans for post-liver-donation care upon discharge from the hospital, including:
    • Housing arrangements if you're traveling to Pittsburgh
    • Transportation to and from follow-up appointments
    • Medications
    • Support for personal, emotional, and physical needs

Blood work and imaging tests for liver donor evaluation

  • Extensive blood tests to determine if you have any:
    • Transmittable diseases (such as viral hepatitis)
    • Underlying liver diseases (such as fatty liver)
    • Serious medical conditions (such as heart disease) that might make liver donation unsafe for you or the liver transplant recipient
  • Echocardiogram involves the use of pictures created by sound waves bounced off the heart to see how well your heart and valves are functioning. You may also need a stress test to check for heart disease.
  • CT scan, which are detailed pictures of the internal organs, to determine the size of the portion of the liver that can be safely donated, and to check the adequacy of the liver's blood supply.

Additional tests for potential liver donors

  • Pulmonary function tests to determine how well the lungs are working.
  • Liver biopsy (where a needle is used to remove a tiny portion of your liver) may be done sometimes. The procedure does not require surgery. Specialists examine this to assess the quality of the liver tissue and exclude the presence of any possible disease.