Living-Donor Liver Transplantation


Ashley Ray battled liver disease nearly her whole life. Her uncle — and a new living donor option at UC San Diego Health — helped save her life.

The Only Team Performing Living-Donor Liver Transplants in San Diego

The liver's unique ability to heal itself and technological advances have made living liver donation possible. The transplant team at UC San Diego Health are experts in the complex care needed for living liver donation. Our interdisciplinary team includes dedicated living donor specialists who provide medical and psychological support for potential donors. We are currently the only team performing living-donor liver transplantation in San Diego. 

The Benefits of Living-Donor Liver Transplantation

In California, one in four people listed for liver transplant dies before an organ becomes available. Living donation is an extraordinary, life-saving option that helps eliminate the risks of waiting for those with advanced liver disease.

Become A Living Donor

Start the process of becoming a living liver donor by completing this brief health questionnaire.

Other benefits:

  • Earlier access to liver transplantation through living donation allows patients to be transplanted while they are less critically ill and better able to get through the demanding process of liver transplantation.
  • Surgery can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for both the recipient and the donor.

Living-Donor Liver Surgery

Unlike any other internal organ, the liver can regrow. Regeneration of the liver in both the donor and recipient begin immediately, with the liver in both returning to 80 percent of its original size within six weeks with further growth up to one year.

Living donor transplant surgery requires the coordination of two transplant teams. During surgery, the donor and the recipient are placed in side-by-side operating rooms. One team removes half of the donor's liver, typically the right half, which is immediately transplanted into the recipient by the second surgical team.

A transplant operation takes approximately six to eight hours and the post-hospital stay is usually 10 to 12 days.

Pre-surgery care and post-transplant support for donors are provided by our expert interdisiplinary team that includes surgeons, hepatologists, infectious disease specialists, psychiatrists, pharmacists, transplant nurse coordinators, nurse practitioners, social workers, dieticians, and physical and occupational therapists.

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Living Donation Expenses

Costs for hospitalization, diagnostic tests, evaluation and living donor surgery are usually paid for by the transplant recipient's insurance. However, travel and living expenses and time away from work are often not covered.

Becoming a Living Liver Donor

As you consider becoming a living liver donor, our highest priority is to protect your health, safety, privacy, and best interests. Donating an organ is a major decision. It is important to be completely honest with the transplant team about your fears and concerns. You should never feel pressured to become a donor. Organ donation is completely voluntary and you have the right to stop or delay the process at any time.

Our living liver donor specialists are experienced in the field of transplantation and can help address your concerns and provide objective advice so that you can make an informed choice that is right for you. 

Living donors may be close friends, acquaintances, blood relatives who:

  • Are blood type and immunologically compatible
  • Are less than 60 years old
  • Have normal function of the organ they are donating
  • Are in excellent health 

All potential donors undergo extensive medical screening and must fully understand the risks and benefits of donation prior to giving their consent.

In order for our team to determine if you are a candidate for living liver donation, please complete an online health history questionnaire.

​Appointments and Referrals

  • 858-657-7728
  • For Referring Physicians

Center For Transplantation Location

La Jolla

Meet Our Experts

Liver Transplant Team

Donor Registry

Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor today at Donate Life America.

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