In Australia, most donor organs come from deceased donors but in some cases, liver transplantation using a live donor is an alternative. In brief, part of the live donor's liver will be removed and transplanted into the recipient. There is significant caution when considering this process as we are creating risk to a healthy person.
The world's first successful living related liver transplantation from mother to her child was performed in Brisbane in 1989, and is routinely performed in liver transplantation centres throughout the world. The Australian National Liver Transplantation Unit (ANTLU) has the expertise and has offered this service for 15 years. Recipient survival is the same as for those patients that receive a liver from deceased donors with 95% of the children alive at one year.
Under certain circumstances it may be possible for an adult to donate a portion of their liver to a child. These donors must be a relative to the child or someone known to the family. The child, who would be under the care of the paediatric team at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, would be very unwell for us to consider this process.
The adult would undergo the donation procedure which is similar to the split procedure at RPA Hospital and the child undergoes the transplant at The Children's hospital at Westmead. There is a separate information booklet if this procedure is offered to you.
Some transplant units perform adult to adult living donor liver transplantation however this is not a procedure which is done by our unit often. In other parts of the world, where deceased donation is rare, living donor liver transplant from an adult to another adult is an important strategy.
It is rarely used in Australia because we have a reasonable donor rate, and because the surgery is complex, meaning that the results in recipients are likely to be poorer than with a whole liver. It is a way, however, of assuring a timely transplant and can be discussed with the surgeon at the surgical meeting. There is a separate information booklet if this procedure is offered to you.