The liver donor is a family member of the patient who volunteers to have an operation to have a portion of his/ her liver removed for transplantation into the patient. The donor must be between the ages of 18 and 60, have a blood group compatible with that of the patient and be healthy and fit for surgery. Obese people and those who consume alcohol regularly are usually not suitable.
The Donor Operation
The amount of liver removed from the donor depends on the weight of the patient and the size and anatomy of the liver. As a general rule, the weight of liver required for transplant is 0.8% of the weight of the patient. Thus a 60 kg patient requires at least 480 g of liver to be transplanted. There are other factors which determine how much liver is required and in some cases as low as 0.7% may be acceptable.
The amount of liver left behind should be at least 30% of the total liver volume. Although 25% has been shown to be safe, a safety margin of 5% is desirable. The remaining liver grows to a normal size. About 90% of this growth occurs in the first 3 months. Slow growth occurs after that as well. The liver function tests typically return to normal in 5-7 days.
Like anyone undergoing abdominal surgery, the donor should avoid lifting heavy weights for 3 months. After that there is no restriction on activity.
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