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Can You Live Without Your Liver?


Monday, April 10th, 2017

The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in your body.

Found in your upper-right abdomen, just below your diaphragm, the liver performs more than 500 different functions including:

  • Processing nutrients.
  • Breaking down fats.
  • Storing vitamins.
  • Metabolizing proteins.
  • Breaking down old blood cells.
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RELATED: What Does the Liver Do for the Body?

So, Can You Live Without Your Liver?

No. Your liver is so vital that you cannot live without it.

But it is possible to live with only part of your liver.

Liver regeneration

The liver is the only organ in your body that can regenerate itself, or grow back, after damage or surgical removal.

While it seems hard to believe, your liver really can grow back to its full size and function in a few months.

Learn more about living-donor liver transplants at the UPMC Transplant Services website.

Living-Donor Liver Transplants

Because your liver grows back, you can actually donate a piece of your liver to someone else.

There’s a growing waiting list for liver transplants, but a shortage of deceased-donor organs. A living-donor liver transplant is a life-saving option for someone in need of a new liver.

During a living-donor liver transplant, doctors remove a piece of your healthy liver. They then use it to replace the damaged liver of a recipient.

After surgery, your liver will regenerate back to its full size. The other person’s new liver will grow back as well, leaving both people with healthy, functioning livers.

Living-donor liver transplants are possible for both adults and children.

How Much of My Liver Will You Remove?

It depends on the size of the person you’re donating to.

It’s possible to remove between 25 to 65 percent of your liver and it will still grow back in a few months.

How to Become a Living Liver Donor

With more than 15,000 people waiting for a liver transplant, living-donor liver transplants save lives.

So, while you can’t live without your liver, you can share part of it with someone else in need.

To be a living liver donor, you must:

    Be between the ages of 18 and 55.

  • Be in good general health.
  • Have no history of:

Get more details about living-donor liver transplants at UPMC.

 

transplant

Transplant Services

For more than 30 years, UPMC Transplantation Services has defined the field of transplantation. Since 1981, we have performed more than 17,500 organ transplants. Our role as a pioneer in solid organ transplantation has allowed us to develop some of the most extensive clinical expertise in the field, giving hope to patients across the country and around the world. Read More