Organ Donation > Liver Donation

What You Need to Know About
Liver Donation.

Becoming a Liver Donor: What to Expect

While processes can vary by transplant program, the liver donation process begins with tests and examinations to ensure you are healthy enough to donate part of your liver. These checks will also ensure that you are physically and emotionally prepared for liver donation.

The liver donor can expect to stay in the hospital for approximately one week. After returning home, liver donors should plan for another six to eight weeks of recovery time. Most liver donors will experience some pain from their incision, but the pain can be managed with medications.

Liver donors are advised to avoid driving while on sedating medications. Donors with small children should prepare to have additional childcare help during the recovery period.

How long are you out of work if you donate a liver?

After surgery, liver donors are usually able to return to work within six to eight weeks. Donors who have jobs that require heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) or are physically demanding, should plan on at least six weeks for recovery. Those donors with less strenuous jobs may be able to return sooner. Some liver donors can request to work part-time or have lighter duties to accommodate their transition back to work.

Most living liver donors return to their normal lives, but potential donors should consult their doctor to discuss specific risks. Within six to eight weeks after surgery, your liver will begin to regenerate and be back to normal size.

How to Approach Your Employer

Approaching your company about taking time off from work can be challenging – but the Circle of Excellence is here to help!

When you meet with your employer about taking a leave for living organ donation, you may consider the following questions:

  • Will the leave I take as a donor qualify for statutory job protection?
  • Will company disability benefits pay a portion of my income while I recover from surgery?
  • In a case where a surgery may not be required, does the employer offer a separate leave bank (e.g., up to 10 days) or do I have to use my PTO? This may include time off for testing, travel, the actual donation, etc.
  • If I don't need an extended absence (e.g., not FMLA), what documentation will I need for the absence?
  • In the event the employer does not offer a separate bank, will they allow leave donation from other employees?

Additionally, the following country-specific information may be helpful for you to know as a potential living donor.

United States

In the US, job-protected leave for voluntary living organ donation and the subsequent recovery time will often be available under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).

The FMLA provides most employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

To be covered by the FMLA, you must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours, and your employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite. (See page 2 of The Employee Guide to the FMLA - the “Guide”)

“Serious health condition” includes voluntary living organ donation and recovery if:

  • The donation requires inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay in a medical care facility); see page 4 of the Guide and 29 CFR § 825.114; or
  • The donation requires a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive, full days and continuing treatment; see page 4 of the Guide and 29 CFR § 825.115(a).

In Canada, job-protected leave for voluntary living organ donation is controlled by provincial statute for most employees. The following provinces provide this job-protected leave:

Employees in federally regulated industries are entitled to 17 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave.

Canada Provincial Health

If the organ donation is coordinated through the provincial health authority, then the operation will be covered by the provincial health plan. Each province has their own health authorities and there are also some living organ donor reimbursement plans to support some of the donor expenses such as travel, meals, as well as loss of income.  

Additional Resources

Living Donor Toolkit

Financial Toolkit | Visit

This Living Donor Financial Toolkit will discuss the costs and resources available to help in the donation process. This toolkit is for potential living donors and others involved in living donation.

Living Donor Liver Transplantation | Visit

This video series, created by the American Liver Foundation, showcases ways to share your story while you search for a donor.

Liver Donor Stories

Damian's Story

Damian volunteered to be an altruistic liver donor to a stranger and they now share a special bond for life.

What greater gift can we give to another, whether it be a loved one, family member, friend, or even a stranger, than the gift of a new lease on life. The choice of becoming a living donor has its challenges and its rewards. What it gives back to the donor is beyond words. I'd say if you're healthy, and can donate, please consider it. You won't regret it!

Read Damian's full story.

Has a company policy helped you with living donation? Share your story!

See if Donating is a Good Fit for You

Download the guide to learn more and see if organ donation is a good fit for you.