The liver is an organ capable of regenerating itself over time, provided no illness causing permanent damage exists. Due to these regenerative properties, transplant surgeons such as Dr. Lewis Teperman encourage eligible individuals to consider becoming living organ donors. The director of transplantation for the New York University Langone Medical Center, Dr. Lewis Teperman has conducted research concerning the increased survival rate of liver disease patients who receive a piece of a living donor’s liver.
Liver transplants occur only after the exhaustion of other medical treatments. Alongside the recipient, living organ donors undergo surgery in which a segment of the donor’s liver is removed and given to the recipient. Within a short period of time, the livers of both the donor and the recipient will return to normal size. Living donors are not required to be related to the recipient, provided they prove to be a match.
Individuals seeking to become living donors must undergo a screening process to determine whether they fit the physical and mental criteria. Factors which cause ineligibility include pregnancy, active alcohol or substance abuse, and diseases of the liver, heart, or lungs. Candidates meet with doctors, nurses, a donor advocate and social workers who assess their health and the likelihood of a successful surgical procedure; if approved, candidates can become living donors and begin preparation for the upcoming procedure, including meeting regularly with a social worker to ensure their full consent and understanding.
Living donor candidates are encouraged to become fully informed about the procedures, benefits, and risks regarding donating a segment of their liver, and to not make the decision under duress. While living donors can increase the success rate of treatment for patients with liver disease, the surgical procedure does involve risks, including blood clotting, pain, pneumonia, and deep vein thrombosis. However, these risks can be reduced by keeping the transplant team fully informed of the donor’s medical history.