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Risks

Living donation is major surgery. All complications of major surgery apply. The best source of information about risks and expected donor outcomes is your transplant team. In addition, it’s important to take an active role in learning more about potential surgical risks and long-term complications.

Potential general living donor complications

  • Pain
  • Infection at the incision site
  • Incisional hernia
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Blood loss
  • Potential need for blood transfusions
  • Medication side effects
  • Abdominal hernia
  • Death

Potential long-term organ specific donor complications

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Kidney
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
Liver

  • Bile leakage
  • Digestive tract blockage
  • Narrowing of bowel duct
  • Blockage or narrowing of the portal vein
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Abdominal bleeding
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Intestinal ulcer
  • Kidney failure
  • Ruptured bowel
  • Fluid on the lungs

Lung, Intestine, and Pancreas

Pancreas, intestine, and lung living-donor transplants are very rare. If you are considering one of these types of living donation, please talk to your transplant center about the organ-specific risks.

Psychological concerns

You may also have negative psychological symptoms right after donation or later. You and/or your recipient may face surgical complications. The transplanted organ may not work right away. There is also the chance it will not work at all. Donors may feel sad, anxious, angry, or resentful after surgery. Donation may change the relationship you have with the recipient.

Living donors must be made aware of the physical and psychological risks involved before they consent to donate an organ. You should discuss your feelings, questions and concerns with a transplant professional and/or social worker.

Reference and Publication Information

This Web site is intended solely for the purpose of electronically providing the public with general health-related information and convenient access to the data resources. UNOS is not affiliated with any one product nor does UNOS assume responsibility for any error, omissions or other discrepancies.

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