Living Liver Donation for People with Obesity
What is obesity?
Obesity is a condition where a person is overweight or very overweight. To figure out if you have obesity, doctors will measure your height and weight to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). People with a high BMI may not be able to be liver donors.
Obesity can give you a higher chance of problems during a major surgery, such as liver donation.
How can obesity affect a liver donor during surgery?
Obesity could lead to problems with surgery, such as:
- Longer surgery time
- Losing a lot of blood
- Issues with breathing after surgery
Obesity can also lead to problems after surgery, such as:
- Hernia (bulging of a tissue into the belly area)
- Poor wound healing (trouble with the incision and the tissue below)
- Liver not working well because of fat or inflammation (swelling) in the liver
Can I be a liver donor if I am overweight or obese?
Maybe, it depends on the center. Centers will have different rules about who can safely donate. The transplant team considers factors, such as your:
- Body shape
- Blood pressure
- Levels of fat in your blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides
- Chance of developing diabetes, such as family history
Your transplant team will do tests to decide if your liver is healthy enough to donate, such as:
- Imaging test of your liver to see if there is any fat present
- Blood test
- Liver biopsy (taking a small piece of your liver to check it under a microscope)
What can I do if I am too overweight to donate?
Work with your main doctor (primary care physician, or PCP) or the dietitian at the transplant center to create a plan for losing weight and improving your health. Some people can lose enough weight and be healthy enough to consider living liver donation. Your plan may include:
- A healthy eating plan
- Being active every day for at least 30 minutes, such as to walk, garden, or bike
- Checking your blood pressure, blood sugar (glucose), and cholesterol
- Stopping smoking if you are a current smoker
How can I learn more?
To learn more, see Chapter 5 on Living liver donation and biopsy