At UCSF Medical Center, most transplanted organs come from deceased donors. However, we perform an increasing number of liver transplants using portions of livers donated by a living relative or friend.

Living donor liver transplants are possible because the liver has the unique ability to regenerate itself. In the procedure, the surgical team removes the diseased liver from the recipient, then transplants a portion of the donor's liver in its place. The donor's remaining portion of liver quickly grows back to its original size, within eight weeks or sooner.

Having a living donor not only reduces the waiting time until transplant, it improves the chance for transplant success. Patients who receive transplants from living donors can better prepare for their surgery, knowing well in advance when the transplant will take place. Also, the liver itself is "fresher" because the donor and recipient are in nearby operating rooms and the donated liver portion is transported within minutes.