Living Donor Evaluation

During the living donor evaluation, the donor may have some of these tests:

  • Screening tests before the evaluation: All female donors must also have a pap smear and mammogram. Men must have a prostate specific antigen (PSA test). These tests are not included in the evaluation.
  • A routine medical exam: This includes the donor’s height and weight, blood pressure, family history of heart, kidney or other chronic disease, history of smoking or obesity, alcohol or drug use, and whether the donor has had any prior surgery.
  • Lab tests: These may include a complete blood count and tests for hepatitis, drugs, HIV and pregnancy. The transplant surgeon decides which lab tests the donor needs.
  • Chest X-ray and electrocardiogram (EKG): These tests check the donor’s lungs and heart.
  • Liver biopsy: This test checks the health of the liver. A needle is placed between two of the right lower ribs to take a sample of liver tissue. The tissue sample goes to a lab for testing.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: This computerized image checks the size and shape of the donor’s liver and the amount of liver tissue in each lobe.
  • Angiogram: This test checks the size of the donor’s blood vessels outside the liver to see if there are any blockages. Dye is injected into the artery so the blood vessels show up on X-ray.
  • A psychosocial evaluation: The donor will talk to a social worker and psychologist to make sure the donor understands the emotional aspects of a transplant. The psychosocial exam also makes sure that the donor wants to have a liver transplant free of any outside pressures from family or friends.

Based on his medical history, a donor may need more tests than those listed here. If there are no problems, the next step is to schedule the liver transplant surgery. The entire process, beginning with the referral to the Children’s Liver Transplant coordinator to the scheduled living donor liver transplant, can take up to six months.