Types of Liver Transplant

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Sangeeta Sharma, last updated on 21 July 2023
Types of Liver Transplant

A surgeon performs liver transplants to remove a damaged liver and replace it with a healthy liver from the donor. The surgical procedure is usually recommended for people with end-stage liver disease or liver failure when the liver becomes too damaged to perform its normal functions. The only chance for a person with liver failure of long-term survival is a liver transplant. Why? Because, unlike the heart, lungs, or kidney, no device can perform the functions of a liver.

There are several types of liver transplants. But before delving deeper into the types, let’s understand the liver diseases that require a liver transplant. 

Which Liver Diseases Require a Liver Transplant? 

In adults, cirrhosis is the most common cause of liver failure, resulting in end-stage liver scarring. In cirrhosis, your liver becomes damaged to the point where it cannot repair itself anymore. Other diseases that require a liver transplant include:-

  1. Hepatitis B and C 
  2. Autoimmune liver diseases (such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis)
  3. Fatty liver  
  4. Biliary atresia (the most common cause of a paediatric liver transplant)
  5. Genetic liver diseases
  6. Liver cancer
  7. Liver failure due to excessive alcohol intake
  8. Benign liver tumours


Book Appointment for

What are the Types of Liver Transplants?

The three main types of liver transplant include:-

Deceased/ Cadaver Liver Transplant

This liver transplant involves removing the entire liver from a deceased or brain-dead (cadaver) donor and transplanting it into the patient. For deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT), the person requiring a liver transplant is added to the nationwide waiting list. The waitlist contains all the information about the patients requiring the transplant. The patients are prioritised for receiving a donor liver based on their Model of End-Stage Liver Diseases (MELD) score, the severity of liver damage, and the chances of survival. The waiting time usually ranges from months to several years. 

In most cases, the deceased donor liver transplantation is done in an emergency setting. Because it is highly unpredictable when a donor becomes available. Several tests are performed to match the recipient’s liver size to the donor’s. Moreover, the complete liver is removed and transplanted in deceased liver transplantation. 

Living Donor Liver Transplantation

In living donor liver transplantation (LDLT), the diseased or damaged liver is removed and replaced with a portion of the healthy living donor liver. The living donor must be a first or second-degree family member of the recipient, such as a daughter, son, sibling, mother, father, or grandparent, aged between 18-55 years. Friends, employees, or neighbours are not eligible donors for living donor liver transplantation. 

The living donor must be healthy to undergo surgery. Since the liver can completely regenerate itself to its original size, both the donor and recipient can have a fully grown liver within two to four months of the surgery. Any person with liver or kidney diseases and mental illnesses is not eligible as a donor. Moreover, a person who has AIDS or HIV is also not eligible. 

Split Liver Transplantation

Split liver transplantation includes transplanting a liver from a deceased donor into two recipients by splitting the liver into two parts - 35-40% of the left lobe and 65-70% of the right lobe. This is possible when the two recipients are an adult and a child. By splitting the donated liver into two parts, it can be used to help two people on the waitlist for a liver transplant. The smaller left lobe of the donated liver is transplanted into a child, and the larger right lobe is transplanted into an adult. 

Like living donor transplantation, the transplanted parts regenerate themselves, and the liver grows back to its original size. Split liver transplantation is an efficient way of utilising the donated liver. 


Some Other types of Liver Transplant

The other types of liver transplants include:-

  1. Domino Liver Transplantation: It is a less common type of liver transplant where a patient with a disease called familial amyloidosis who receives a liver transplant donates their liver to a recipient. Familial amyloidosis is a rare inherited disease in which an abnormal protein made by the liver accumulates and damages organs, such as the heart, kidneys, and nerves. In domino liver transplantation, the donor donates their liver because it still functions well. The recipient may develop the symptoms of amyloidosis. However, it usually takes decades. 
  2. Auxiliary Liver Transplantation: It is a type of liver transplantation where the recipient’s liver is not removed completely. In auxiliary liver transplantation, only a portion of the native liver is removed, and the rest is left in its place. The transplantation provides temporary support while the native liver recovers. 
  3. Orthotopic Liver Transplant (OLT): In this procedure, the diseased liver is completely removed and replaced with a normal liver taken from a deceased or living donor. The liver is transplanted with normal or near-normal anatomic reconstruction. 
  4. Heterotopic Liver Transplant (HLT): In this procedure, the surgeon leaves the patient’s diseased liver in its place and grafts an auxiliary liver in an ectopic site. A heterotopic liver transplant is performed for patients with acute fulminant hepatic failure or who had surgery in the right upper quadrant, ruling out the possibility of an orthotopic liver transplant. 
  5. Piggyback Liver Transplant: It is a surgical procedure used in both living and deceased donor liver transplantation. The piggyback method simplifies the liver transplant procedure by preserving the recipient’s retrohepatic inferior vena cava (a vein that is relatively fixed to the liver, making it difficult to access and control the vein). 
  6. Swap Liver Transplant: A patient requiring a healthy liver but unable to find a compatible one with a living donor can opt for a swap liver transplant. Under this method, a swapping of donors between two pairs of people takes place. Each pair comprises a donor and a recipient. Each recipient gets a healthy liver compatible with the donor of the other pair.  
  7. ABO-Incompatible Liver Transplantation: The number of living donor liver transplantations is increasing. However, the number of organs remains lower than required. When ABO- compatible donors aren’t available, crossing the blood-typing barrier and receiving living liver donations from ABO-incompatible donors becomes the only chance to save lives from liver diseases.

Liver Transplantation in Children

A common misconception - only adults can get liver diseases. The truth - even children can get liver diseases and require a liver transplant 

The most common cause of a liver transplant in children is a liver disease called biliary atresia. As opposed to an adult liver transplant, a paediatric liver transplant is a surgery used to replace a child’s damaged liver with a healthy liver from another person. The child may receive a liver from a deceased donor or a family member.

The Next Step

When your liver becomes severely damaged, a liver transplant is the only treatment to improve the chances of survival. Since the availability of organs is less than its demand, the waiting time can range from some months to several years. It is critical to get a prompt diagnosis so an early treatment approach can be decided. Of the 2,00,000 patients dying yearly due to liver failure in India, about 10-15% can be saved with a well-timed liver transplant. 

HexaHealth is a one-stop solution for your healthcare needs to help you throughout your surgical journey, from finding the right hospital to post-surgical recovery. The expert team of 1500+ doctors and surgeons at HexaHealth can help start an early donor search to ensure a successful liver transplant. In the meantime, they will begin your treatment plan to manage your condition and decide which type of liver transplant suits you the best. So without any delay, consult an HexaHealth expert TODAY! 


Updated on : 21 July 2023


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Sangeeta Sharma

Sangeeta Sharma

BSc. Biochemistry I MSc. Biochemistry (Oxford College Bangalore)

6 Years Experience

She has extensive experience in content and regulatory writing with reputed organisations like Sun Pharmaceuticals and Innodata. Skilled in SEO and passionate about creating informative and engaging medical conten...View More

Related Expert Doctors

Dr. Deepak Lahoti

Dr Deepak Lahoti

Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy

42 Years Experience

like98 % Recommended
WhatsApp Expert
Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Shrivastava

Dr Sanjeev Kumar Shrivastava

Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy

38 Years Experience

like95 % Recommended
WhatsApp Expert
Dr. Vivek Raj

Dr Vivek Raj

Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy

39 Years Experience

like100 % Recommended
WhatsApp Expert

Related Hospitals

CDAS Super Speciality Hospital

CDAS Super Speciality Hospital 

Malibu Town

rating4.55/5 Rating
WhatsApp Expert
Lifeaid Medical Centre

Lifeaid Medical Centre 

Cyberpark, 1097, Jharsa Rd

rating4.62/5 Rating
WhatsApp Expert
Bensups Hospital, Delhi
WhatsApp Expert

Book Appointment for


Download HexaHealth App

Get free consultation with our expert doctors, store all your health records at one place and get real time updates of appointments, consultations & surgery.