Living Liver Graft Survival

It’s important for a prospective living donor to make an informed decision about the use of their proffered organ. Unfortunately, too many surgeons rush to transplant without considering how a failed transplant or deceased recipient will affect the donor. After all, while a recipient can (possibly) procure a new liver/kidney, the donor cannot undo what has been done to them.

For living liver donor transplants performed between 1997-2004 (the latest data released by OPTN), the one-year graft survival rate (ie. the transplanted livers are still functioning) is 82.5%. The three-year graft survival rate is 72.2%, and the five-year graft survival rate is 65.9%.

In other words, 34% of living liver donor transplants fail within five years.

SRTR, the national database of statistics related to solid organ transplantation, has more detailed statistics available. Still only on a national level though.

This table lists the 3-month, one-year, three-year, five-year and ten-year adjusted graft survival rate of living liver donor transplants by year the transplant was conducted (1989-2007). Unadjusted rates.

2007 (latest year available):
3-month graft survival rate: 91.7%
1-year graft survival rate: 89.1%
3-year graft survival rate: 82.9%
5-year graft survival rate: 78.3%
10-year graft survival rate: 57.2%

This table breaks down living liver donor adjusted graft survival rate from 1997-2007 via age of recipient at the time of transplant, recipient race/ethnicity and recipient gender.

Explanation of adjusted and unadjusted rates. All of SRTR’s liver-related tables.

A2ALL findings published in 2005 in the Annals of Surgery indicated that 81 percent of the transplanted live-donor livers were still functioning at one year, which is comparable to the success rates for deceased-donor livers. (139)

In other words, unlike living donor kidneys, living donor livers are not ‘better’ for the recipient’s prognosis, at least not right now. Meanwhile, we have no long-term data on liver donors’, especially the dangers of cirrhosis.

Last Updated: June 2, 2012