Living Donor Liver Inpatient Hospitalization

Living Donor Liver Transplant Program

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Living Donor Liver Inpatient Hospitalization

Morning of Surgery:

  • Arrive in Same Day Surgery at 6:00 a.m.

  • Donor meets with the anesthesiologist and donor surgeon and is prepped for surgery. If consent forms were not signed at Pre-Admission Testing they will be signed at this time.

  • Donor is taken to the operating room where general anesthesia will be administered and the surgery will take place.

The Surgery:

  • At the time of the surgery, the donor will be moved to an operating room, directly adjacent to the operating room of the recipient. Both surgeries begin around the same time, although the surgical team may elect to bring either the donor or recipient into the operating room first under certain circumstances.

  • The donor's team of surgeons will remove the right lobe, which is typically about 60 percent of the liver.

  • The gallbladder will be removed during the surgery as part of the right liver lobe. The right lobe will then be immediately transported to the recipient's operating room and sewn into the recipient. The recipient's entire diseased liver will have been removed by that point.

  • Once the portion of the liver is removed from the donor, the abdomen is closed and the donor is taken to the surgical intensive care unit. The donor's surgery typically lasts six hours.

  • During the surgery, the donor's family may wait in the surgery waiting area on the 2nd floor of the Weinberg Building. Families will get interim reports on their loved one during the surgery.

Immediately After Surgery:

  • Once the surgery is complete, the donor surgeon will come to the waiting area on the 2nd floor, Weinberg Building to speak with the family.

Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU):

  • The donor will be taken directly to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit after the surgery. Here they will be monitored closely. The donor's nurse will monitor the donor's comfort level and will administer pain medicine as needed.

  • The donor will be hooked up to monitors and IVs to make sure they are recovering safely.

  • Surgical drains will be in place to monitor the cut edge of the liver and also possibly bile production.

  • The family will be able to visit the SICU after the donor is settled in to the room, typically one to two hours after the donor has left the OR.

After SICU:

  • Once the donor is stable, they will be transferred to a regular hospital room, which will most likely be on the transplant floor, the 8th floor, Gudelsky Building.

  • The donor will be given compression stockings to help with circulation until they begin walking regularly.

  • The donor will be instructed on the use of incentive spirometry for breathing exercises. This assists in preventing pneumonia post surgery.

  • The donor will be encouraged to get out of bed to the chair about 24 hours after the surgery.

  • IV pain medicine will be connected to a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) device. Anti-nausea medicine is also available upon request.

Hospital Stay:

  • Donor will have post-operative blood tests every morning during hospital stay.

  • Donors will have three to four follow-up visits with the transplant team prior to being released from our care. Lab work will be monitored.

  • On the 1st or 2nd day, the donor's diet is liquids only. As bowel activity improves, they will be advanced to a regular diet.

  • Donor will continue oral pain medicine and anti-nausea medicine as needed.

  • Donor is encouraged to walk as much as tolerated -at least 3 times that day. (Visiting the recipient is often a good incentive to walk). 

  • Most donors spend 5-7 days in the hospital.

  • Donor will be discharged on pain medicine.

  • Donor will not be charged for prescriptions if they are filled at UMMS outpatient pharmacy. Donor's family member or friend should take written prescriptions to the UMMC pharmacy a couple of hours before discharge from the hospital.

  • Post-operative follow-up appointment will be made within the first week after discharge from the hospital.

Discharge Home:

  • Allow 4-6 weeks for recovery period. The donor should not drive or over exert themselves during this time.

  • Incisional oozing and tenderness is normal. Incisional surgical drain may remain in place for 1 to 2 weeks and will be removed by your surgical team when appropriate.

  • Some pain is normal, but should be relieved with prescribed pain medicine.

  • Showering is acceptable immediately following hospital discharge. Tub baths are not allowed until incision is completely healed.

  • No lifting greater than 10 lbs for 6 weeks after surgery.

  • Stair climbing and walking is encouraged.

  • Donors should anticipate being out of work for 6 weeks.

  • It is recommended that donors see their primary care physician within several months of surgery.

To learn more about living donor liver transplantation, please call 410-328-3444.

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