Live liver donation

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: March 16th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Are you one of the more than fifteen-thousand Americans in need of a liver transplant? If so, you’d better start working on your sales pitch.

The number of donated livers available each year from deceased donors is fewer than half of the number needed. The number is steadily decreasing, which has led to increased wait times and a rise in deaths among those on the waiting list for a transplant.

Many of these patients would be aided by live donation, where a person donates a portion of his or her liver to a needy recipient. But living donors are also in short supply.

A new study shows that transplant candidates who discuss their need for a new liver with friends and family are far more likely to receive a live donor than those who don’t. Researchers from six New York medical centers and the New York Center for Liver Transplantation gave patients on a waiting list an educational brochure and a DVD featuring testimonials and other data from previous living donors. These materials centered on donors’ experience with surgery, recovery after liver donation, the medical costs, employment issues and their life after donation.

The results were surprising. Compared with the period before the study, living donation increased forty-two percent. The number of individuals who signed up for donation evaluation skyrocketed by seventy-four percent.

But don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. Even if you don’t know someone who needs a new liver, consider seeking out information about donations. You just might save someone’s life.