Living donor liver evaluation is a three-part process, starting with a questionnaire and blood testing, followed by a multidisciplinary team evaluation and surgeon visit, and finally an anesthesia evaluation.
Donating a portion of your liver to another individual is a great act of kindness and can be life saving for the recipient. A liver transplant is a complex surgery for both the donor and the recipient.
In order to effectively plan for the surgery and ensure the best possible outcomes, the Massachusetts General Hospital Liver Transplant Team evaluates living donors in a three-part process. Potential donors may choose to discontinue their evaluation at any point in the process, for any reason, with complete confidentiality. Typically, the Transplant Center and the recipient's insurance will cover the cost of the evaluation and surgery.
Domino liver transplant patients meet
William Gledhill (left) and Anthony Mele met after taking part in a rare procedure known as a "domino" liver transplant. Read the story
Phase One: Questionnaire and Blood Tests
- Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 65, and have no serious medical problems
- The donor evaluation begins with the potential donor contacting our transplant center and answering a few questions that allow us to determine the donor’s overall health status
- Standard blood tests will be done to determine blood type, liver function and overall health status. Blood testing can be performed at Mass General or at another local hospital
Phase Two: Team Evaluation and Surgeon Visit
- The donor will meet with our hepatologist, living donor nurse coordinator, financial coordinator, social worker, living donor advocate and nutritionist to learn about the donation process and to ask any questions
- The evaluation includes a complete medial history and physical examination, and additional testing such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), chest X-ray, a CT scan of the abdomen to evaluate liver anatomy and other blood work or tests as needed
- Next, the donor will meet with a surgeon from the Mass General Liver Transplant Program to discuss the surgical procedure and hospital stay. The operation is performed using a laparoscopic-assisted technique, and the majority of donors go home five to seven days after surgery
Phase Three: Anesthesia Evaluation and Scheduling Surgery
- Once all tests are complete, the transplant team will discuss the donor's eligibility at our weekly multidisciplinary liver transplant meeting to determine if the donor is approved for surgery. Once approved, we will schedule the surgery on a date that is convenient for both the donor and recipient
- The donor will meet with his/her surgeon to sign the surgical consent form and to answer any last-minute questions. The donor will also meet with an anesthesiologist to discuss the anesthesia process and answer any additional questions
If you would like to make an appointment or talk to someone about our donor evaluation process, please call 877-644-2860. Request an appointment online
Our approach to patient care brings together a team of transplant specialists who create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
View the Transplant Center’s patient guide for information about transplantation, including how to prepare for surgery and how to care for your new organ.