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Liver Surgery for Living Donors

What to Expect During Living-Donor Liver Surgery

Have you made the decision to donate part of your liver to help someone in need? If so, this overview explains the surgery so you know what to expect.

On the day of living liver donation surgery:

  • You will be admitted to the Ambulatory Surgery Center on the sixth floor of UPMC Montefiore.
  • You will meet with the transplant surgeon and anesthesiologist to ask any questions before the operation.
  • Your family members can wait in the surgery center waiting room. Your living-donor liver transplant coordinator will update them on the progress of your surgery.

How Long Is Living-Donor Liver Surgery?

The entire liver donor operation will take five to seven hours.

What Happens During Living-Donor Liver Transplant Surgery?

During living-donor liver transplant surgery, you will have a partial hepatectomy, the surgical removal of a part of the liver.

Once you are under general anesthesia, the surgeon will:

  • Make an incision across the abdomen to safely locate and remove the appropriate portion of the liver.
  • Remove anywhere from 25 to 65 percent of your liver, depending on the size of the recipient.
  • Remove the gallbladder since it is attached to the liver.

After your surgery begins, a second team of surgeons starts to operate on the liver transplant recipient.

The evaluation process does not stop when the surgeries begin, but will continue throughout.

The transplant team may stop surgery if, at any point, they think:

  • You're at risk or in any type of danger.
  • Your liver isn't suitable for the transplant.

Before you leave the OR, surgeons will place drains in your abdominal cavity. These let fluids drain and will stay in place for up to five days while you heal after surgery.