Donating Part of Your Liver

Your liver is the only solid organ that can restore itself when part of it is removed. This regenerative capability makes it possible to donate a section of liver to someone in need.

Donating part of your liver is a major decision. Our coordinators will guide you through every step of the process. We respect that you have the right to change your mind about donation at any time. Learn if you can become a liver donor.

Henry Ford: Experts in liver donations

Living donor liver transplantation is a highly specialized procedure. When you come to Henry Ford to donate part of your liver, you benefit from:

  • Transplant expertise: Our Transplant Institute has been at the forefront of living donor liver transplants since performing the first such procedure in Michigan, in 2000. We are the busiest liver transplant program in Michigan, which gives our team exceptional expertise.
  • Outstanding safety: Our priority at Henry Ford is to protect your health while minimizing risks as much as possible. We have a 100 percent survival rate for living liver donors. Nationally, the risk of death is extremely low, at 5 in 1,000.

Minimally invasive liver donations

Many centers use traditional open surgery when removing a living donation, making a 20- to 25-incision along the ribcage to the sternum. We are among a small, elite group of national programs using an advanced mini-incision whenever possible. Our team removes the section of liver through a single 4-inch incision.

Compared to traditional surgery, our approach offers many benefits for living donors:

  • Less scarring
  • Reduced pain after surgery
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Faster recovery and return to an active life

Ways to donate a section of your liver

There are two ways to donate:

  • Directed donation: You select a specific person, usually a relative, loved one or friend, to receive your donated section of liver.
  • Non-directed, or altruistic, donation: Henry Ford, in conjunction with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), arranges to give your donation to someone on the national transplant waitlist.

Resources for living liver donors

Donating a part of your liver to someone is a serious commitment. We want you to feel secure in your decision. Our experts are here to help:

  • Donor advocates: These Henry Ford physicians are not members of the liver transplant team. Donor advocates make sure you understand the expectations and risks of liver donation. They also ensure that you are making the decision of your own free will.
  • Living organ donor coordinators: These registered nurses are members of the liver transplant team. They guide you through the entire donation process, from pre-evaluation screening to post-operative recovery.
  • Financial specialists: You should not have to pay any medical expenses related to your liver donation. Our financial specialists assess the transplant recipient’s health insurance plan to determine coverage. If needed, the recipient may apply for grants to cover any of your unpaid expenses.
  • Guest services: Our caring staff assists you and your caregivers with travel arrangements, lodging and other support. Learn more about our resources.
  • The National Living Donor Assistance Center: This nonprofit provides financial assistance to help you cover the costs of travel, lodging, missed work and other incidental expenses related to donation. Learn more about the National Living Donor Assistance Center.

Split Liver Hologram

See a digital hologram of our living-donor liver-splitting process come to life in your hands. Watch Now
Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant Institute specialist.