Living donation is major surgery. All complications of major surgery apply. These include:

  • pain
  • infection at the incision site
  • incisional hernia
  • pneumonia
  • blood clots
  • hemorrhaging
  • potential need for blood transfusions
  • side effects associated with allergic reactions to the anesthesia
  • death

The best source of information about risks and expected donor outcomes is your transplant team. In addition, it’s important to take an active role in learning more about these potential surgical risks and long term complications:

Long-Term Organ Specific Donor Complications



  • Intra-operative ventricular fibrillation arrest
  • Postoperative pulmonary artery thrombosis
  • Bronchopleural fistula
  • Pleural effusion
  • Empyema
  • Bronchial stricture
  • Pericarditis
  • Arrhythmias
  • Chylothorax
  • Pneumothorax
  • Hemoptysis
  • Dyspnea


  • Bile leakage
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Biliary stricture
  • Portal vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolish
  • Intra abdominal bleeding
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bleeding duodenal ulcer
  • Renal failure
  • Gastric perforation
  • Gastric outlet obstruction
  • Plueural effusion



  • Short bowl syndrome
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Dysvitaminosis
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea

Psychological Concerns

You may also have negative psychological symptoms right after donation or later. You and/or your recipient may face surgical complications. The transplanted organ may not work right away. There is also the chance it will not work at all. Donors may feel sad, anxious, angry, or resentful after surgery. Donation may change the relationship you have with the recipient.

Living donors must be made aware of the physical and psychological risks involved before they consent to donate an organ. You should discuss your feelings, questions and concerns with a transplant professional and/or social worker.

This Web site is intended solely for the purpose of electronically providing the public with general health-related information and convenient access to the data resources. UNOS is not affiliated with any one product nor does UNOS assume responsibility for any error, omissions or other discrepancies.

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