The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of adult-to-adult living donor liver transplantation, specifically donor outcomes. A systematic review, with searches of the literature up to January 2004, was undertaken. Two hundred and fourteen studies provided information on donor outcomes. The majority of these were case series studies, although there were also studies comparing living donor liver transplantation with deceased donor liver transplantation. Both underreporting and duplicate reporting is likely to have occurred, and so caution is required in interpretation of these results. Overall reported donor mortality was 12 to 13 in about 6,000 procedures (0.2%) (117 studies). Mortality for right lobe donors to adult recipients is estimated to be 2 to 8 out of 3,800 (0.23 to 0.5%). The donor morbidity rate ranged from 0% to 100% with a median of 16% (131 studies). Biliary complications and infections were the most commonly reported donor morbidities. Nearly all donors had returned to normal function by 3 to 6 months (18 studies). In conclusion, there are small, but real, risks for living liver donors. Due to the short history of adult-to-adult living donor liver transplantation, the long-term risks for donors are unknown.
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