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Liver donor assessment

Want to become a living liver donor? Scroll down and find out about our assessment process and if you're suitable.

About

Donate a liver and you can help to improve the lives of people suffering from liver disease and other serious conditions. Although donation usually happens after you die, it is possible to donate part of your liver while you're alive. If you're thinking of donating, we can assess your suitability. 

Need to know

  • What is a living liver donor transplant? icon plus

    A living liver transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a diseased liver with part of a healthy one from a living donor.

    If you'd like to become a living liver donor, the health of your liver will need to be assessed by us, as well as your overall health and suitability for surgery. On this page below, we explain our liver donor assessment process. 

  • Am I eligible? icon plus

    To become a living liver donor, both you and the recipient must be above the age of consent (18). You'll also need to be within a blood group compatible with the recipient.

    If you meet these requirements, we'll invite you to an initial assessment at The London Liver Centre, which is part of London Bridge Hospital. The initial assessment will allow us to start determining your suitability for a living liver transplant. 

  • What happens at the initial assessment? icon plus

    If eligible, we'll invite you to an initial assessment with a consultant transplant surgeon or physician at The London Liver Clinic at London Bridge Hospital. As well as explaining the assessment process, they'll also ask you to sign a consent form, giving us permission to carry out preliminary tests and other investigations. 

    During the assessment, it is important you tell your consultant about any health issues, such as diabetes mellitus and recent pregnancies.

    After the assessment, you'll meet with a liver transplant coordinator. They'll explain the rest of the assessment process, which will include preliminary tests. 
  • What preliminary tests will be carried out? icon plus

    Your transplant coordinator will organise the dates and times of your preliminary tests. The tests might happen on the day of your assessment or in the near future. These preliminary tests might include:

    • Chest X-ray. A scan to ascertain clear lung fields for the surgical anaesthetic. 
    • ECG (electrocardiogram). A scan of your heart rhythm to spot abnormalities.
    • Blood tests to get a clear picture of your overall physical health.*
    • Abdominal CT scan (computerised axial tomography). A scan to measure and assess the portion of liver to be donated. 

    *To assess your suitability and overall health, we will need to carry out a number of blood test investigations. We've listed these investigations in the section below. 

  • What blood test investigations will be carried out? icon plus

    As with all blood tests, we'll investigate a number of things that will help us to find out if you are a suitable liver donor. These investigations might include:

    • differential full blood count
    • full biochemistry screen – e.g. liver function tests, urea and electrolytes etc
    • autoantibodies
    • ferritin level
    • alpha 1 antitrypsin
    • copper and ceruloplasmin
    • full thyroid screen
    • full lipid screen
    • blood group (looking for atypical antibodies)
    • hepatitis markers and other virus e.g. CMV, cytomegalovins and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV)
    • human immune deficiency (HIV) with a written explanation and a signed consent form
    • a pregnancy test (if applicable)*

    If you're on the contraceptive pill, you will need to stop taking it for at least three months prior to be considered as a donor.

     

  • Will I need to do any other assessments? icon plus

    As part of the assessment process, both you and the recipient will meet with a consultant psychiatrist. They'll assess your psycho-social situation, your support system and your understanding of the process. It's also their responsibility to make sure you haven't been coerced into surgery. After this meeting, the consultant psychiatrist will submit their opinions to the transplant team. 
  • What happens after the preliminary tests? icon plus

    Your test results — and suitability — will be reviewed by our transplant team, which includes a physician, anaesthetist and consultant psychiatrist. Your anaesthetist will take a close look at your results, making sure you have normal heart and lung function for surgery.

    If you are deemed to be a suitable donor, the transplant team will set a date for surgery, giving you notice. 

    The team will do their best to commit themselves to the date booked. However, they may need to postpone your surgery in order to perform an urgent liver transplant on someone on the waiting list. 
  • Legal information icon plus

    We work to the highest ethical standards and are regulated by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). Both of these regulators work under the terms of The Human Tissue Act 2004.

Liver transplant donor assessment

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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