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Liver Donor Evaluation Process and Requirements

Living liver donors save lives. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, organ donors are heroes.

Our comprehensive living liver donor program is led by liver transplant experts with decades of experience. Our dedicated team can answer your questions about the liver donation process and help you determine if organ donation is right for you.

Our Living Liver Donor Evaluation Process

Our specialists guide potential donors through a complete evaluation of their physical, mental and psychological health. Thorough testing and careful consideration help us prioritize your health and safety throughout the donation process. 

Our evaluation methods also ensure every liver transplant recipient has the best chance at a successful outcome. An independent hepatologist (liver specialist) will oversee your testing and evaluation, providing an extra layer of safety for all donors.

The donor eligibility evaluation process will move as quickly or as slowly as the donor prefers, but it can sometimes be completed in as few as 2 weeks. Our process includes:

  • Donor matching: We first determine a donor’s blood type to find out if they are a suitable match with the recipient. As a donor, your blood type does not necessarily have to match your intended recipient’s type. (For example, someone with type O blood may still donate to someone with another blood type because O is compatible with all blood types.)
  • Medical testing: As a potential donor, you will need to undergo certain medical tests. Some can be completed at a location convenient for you and others must be performed at our center. These tests ensure your body is fit for liver donation surgery. Physical tests may include:
    • Physical exam, including blood pressure, heart rate and lung function testing
    • Blood and urine tests, to check for any health concern that could possibly affect your liver function in years to come
    • MRI scan, to help doctors assess the condition of your liver and bile ducts
    • CT angiogram, a CT scan that injects a special dye into your veins to evaluate your blood vessels
  • Education: Liver donation is major surgery. We will sit down with you to discuss everything you need to know about liver donation, including the long-term risks and benefits. Our team will ensure you receive answers to all your questions, so you feel confident in your care.
  • Psychological support: Our living liver donor team includes a donor advocate and counselor, who focus entirely on you. We make sure every donor has a strong understanding of organ donation and knows that donating a liver is your decision, and yours alone. We also make sure you have family or other people who will care for you in your recovery.

Learn more about liver donor surgery and recovery.

Living Donor Liver Transplantation Requirements

A living donor is often a parent, other family member or friend of the transplant recipient. To donate a liver to someone in need of a liver transplant, you must have a compatible (but not always identical) blood type. We can help you determine blood type compatibility.

In general, potential liver donors should be in overall good health, with no significant medical problems and no history of a past liver problem. We require liver donors to maintain a healthy weight, for their own safety. If you are interested in donating a liver but are overweight, we will provide you with a dietician who can make recommendations to improve your health so you can become a candidate.

Contact Us

For more information about the living liver donor program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 888.995.4780.