Donor Evaluation Process

UI Health’s process to evaluate a living donor can take some time. The safety of the donor is a priority for the transplant team, and the donor evaluation process will not be rushed or compromised, even if the transplant recipient is extremely sick. Part of the evaluation process involves the donor to meet with an Independent Living Donor Advocate. The advocate acts on behalf of the donor’s needs, rights, and interests, and will help potential donors to understand the informed consent, evaluation, surgery, and follow-up processes. The evaluation process is designed to protect and advocate for the donor’s best interests.

UI Health’s Donor Evaluation Process Includes the Following:

  • Making sure the potential donor understands the evaluation process and the medical, psychological, social, and financial effects of being a living donor
  • Making sure that the potential donor gives consent freely and that they have all the information needed to make a decision
  • Assessing your suitability (The level of medical risk to you)
  • Talking with you about the results of the work-up
  • Providing emotional support, follow-up, and continuity of care throughout the donation process

If, at any point in the evaluation process, the living donor or their family members have any questions or concerns about donation, we encourage them to call the living donor advocate or pre-transplant coordinator.

Qualifying for a Living Donor Transplant

Only the "perfectly healthy" person of age and with of reasonable size can become a donor. In order to determine if a person meets the necessary qualifications to be a living donor they must go through a step-by-step evaluation process. The process starts with the simple and least invasive tests.

The first step in the donation process is determining if the potential donor’s blood type and the recipient’s blood type are compatible. The chart below illustrates blood type compatibilities.

blood type compatibility chart

Medical and Psychological Evaluation

Once it is determined that the potential donor and the intended recipient have compatible blood types, the potential donor will be further evaluated by our Transplant Team. Our team meets and evaluates each potential donor. A review of past and present medical conditions and surgeries is done to be sure that there are no concerns that would place the potential donor or recipient at any risk.

Our UI Health Transplant Team includes:

  • Hepatologist
  • Transplant surgeon
  • Dietitian
  • Social worker (including Living Donor Advocate)
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Cardiologist
  • Infectious disease specialist
  • Pharmacist
  • Financial coordinator

The other evaluation tests and studies included are listed below:

  • Blood studies include blood chemistries, blood counts, immune system function, and tests for certain infectious diseases
  • Chest X-ray helps determine the health of the lungs and respiratory tract
  • Urine test to screen for the presence of urinary tract diseases and drugs or alcohol
  • Echocardiogram (EKG) of the heart helps determine how well the heart is working and determine if your heart function. A Cardiologist will also see you and determine if your heart is strong enough for surgery.
  • Liver biopsy to determine the health of the donor liver and evaluate for steatosis (fatty liver)
  • MRI of the liver to determine the size and shape of the liver and major blood vessels
  • Additional tests may be necessary depending on a donor's age and individual medical history

Once the Donor's evaluation is complete, the Liver Transplant Team will review the recommendations and test results. After your candidacy is approved, the transplant surgery can be scheduled, usually within one or two weeks. Please note that abnormal results at any point during the workup may require further testing or may prevent you from donating altogether.