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Alcohol support

Should I donate part of my liver to my sister?

260 replies

Sienna7657 · 04/05/2021 10:58

Hi all,
My sister has been a heavy drinker for many years. It's got to the point that she has malnutrition and her liver has failed. She cannot walk anymore because she is that weak.
She is in need of a liver transplant. I know that in the uk, it can take many months before a donor is available. I'm the same blood group as her and I have a healthy bmi.
I am considering to give her part of my liver instead. However there are a few things I need to consider.
I am a single mum to 2 young children under 2. Recovery after a transplant can take upto 3 months and I dont think I can find anyone else to help me take care of the kids.
I would have to take unpaid leave off work. This would mean that my family will struggle financially and I really dont want to be asking my family for money.
What would you do if you were me?

OP posts:

Dsisproblem · 04/05/2021 11:36

I'm so sorry about your sister, but I absolutely wouldn't do this as a single parent.


CaraherEIL · 04/05/2021 11:37

Your sister doesn’t really sound well enough to go through the surgery. If you are doing this to save your sisters life the idea of not asking your family for financial support for 3 months to pay for support in looking after your kids is insane. You would be saving your sisters life. You need to talk to your parents if you really feel serious about doing this. There has to be a way to make it happen if it is something you want to do. If it were me and my sister had been 2 years sober I would do it.


Mmn654123 · 04/05/2021 11:37

It doesn’t sound like you want to donate a lobe of your liver to your sister. And that’s ok. She isn’t entitled to part of your liver just because she’s unwell.

Are you feeling pressured to donate?


Tempusfudgeit · 04/05/2021 11:38

Didn't George Best get a liver transplant, then carry on drinking? Your adult sister has made her choices, think of your children first.


DogsSausages · 04/05/2021 11:39

What a difficult situation for everyone, she sounds very unwell, do the doctors realistically think she would survive a transplant operation and would it help her body recover from all the long term damage if her kidneys and breathing are affected. I would be cautious to do this, there are risks to both of you and you may not be a match anyway, your children come first now.


FTEngineerM · 04/05/2021 11:40

Nope, your babies come first.
My brother has been abusing all sorts his whole life and he wouldn’t get a look in to my organs; we all had the same set when born and just made different choices. If someone doesn’t respect their own body enough to look after it why do you think they’ll respect yours?


JeanClaudeVanDammit · 04/05/2021 11:40

What a difficult situation for you, it must be heartbreaking. In your circumstances no, I don’t think I would do it.


SandysMam · 04/05/2021 11:41

Hi OP, this is so hard for you and you sound like a lovely sister. I need a kidney transplant (not caused by alcohol) and just wouldn’t be able to take one from someone with dependent children. Whilst the operation is low risk to the donor due to the rigorous checks (they only take from the healthiest people) any risk at all to a mum of kids is a risk too far. Hopefully your sister will get what she needs and should be high up on the transplant list if she is eligible. If it makes you feel better, why not say you looked into donating but there is a reason you can’t (make something up if needs be, Google will help). You need to say quickly though so your sister and family are not living in hope.


EL8888 · 04/05/2021 11:42

No way. You have 2 young children and that’s a long recovery time -could even be more than 3 months. I know it’s hard and l say this as a child of an alcoholic but no.


Sienna7657 · 04/05/2021 11:42

No I'm not feeling pressured to donate. If I was not a parent, I would definitely do it.
I dont think my sister is strong enough for a transplant. But I dont think there is much other choice for her. Her liver has stopped working completely. The doctors have tried using the TIPPS peocedure on her but that didnt work.

OP posts:

bunglebee · 04/05/2021 11:43

Harsh, but in the circumstances you describe I would not do it. Your first and overwhelming commitment has to be to your own DC, who need you and need you healthy. The operation has risks for you, and there is no guarantee your DSis wouldn't ruin your liver as she has done her own if she has reached that degree of addiction.

It's a horrible choice to have to make. But your DC are the important ones here.


Temp023 · 04/05/2021 11:43

Absolutely, if there was a chance of saving her life, then without hesitation.


4PawsGood · 04/05/2021 11:44

I’d also find out if you are a match first.

So are her kidneys failing too?


Miasicarisatia · 04/05/2021 11:44

She didn't respect her own liver why would she respect yours?
she wants the new liver so she can spend more time in the comforting embrace of her first love, ie alcohol... she just wants to carry on drinking for a bit longer
I know it's a brutal thing to say but I don't think I would


Sienna7657 · 04/05/2021 11:44

Sorry if I sound stupid but if I'm the same blood type as her and genetically related- does that mean that there is a chance that I'm not a match for her?

OP posts:

ZenNudist · 04/05/2021 11:45

Talk to your parents and see what can be done about family support for you to help your dsis. You should not be afraid to ask for this to be a joint effort. You provide the liver but others in the family help with your dc and supporting you to do this. I would not want to lose a sibling sooner than I had to if I could stop that. If she was still drinking it would be a different matter.


CaraherEIL · 04/05/2021 11:46

Provided you are young and healthy the info on recovery doesn’t sound too terrifying or overwhelming. Driving is safe after 3 weeks, your liver actually starts regrowing to fill the space of what was removed within 2 weeks. They say strong prescription painkillers might even become unnecessary after 2 weeks. Not at all to underestimate what you would be going through. Obviously there are risks of complications left lobe donation seems to be a lot less risky than right lobe. Have you discussed this with anyone medical, do you know anything about the possible surgical team or at the minute are all thoughts of this theoretical?


Horehound · 04/05/2021 11:47

Not if she wasn't going to get clean. Can you trust she will? Otherwise it's a wasted effort.


Wbeezer · 04/05/2021 11:48

I think you have to help the most immediately in need first, ie your sister. Your concern are under 2 so will have no memories of whatever happens, if they have a secure bond with you they will be able to cope with a temporary disruption without long term effects.
I think the level of sacrifice you are willing to take completely cancels out any guilt you should feel about asking for help from your family.
Short term guilt over not being 100% available for your children for a limited period of time versus ling term guilt over not trying to save your sister? I know which i would choose although i appreciate the conflict


Horehound · 04/05/2021 11:48

Btw livers regrowing don't take the same shape as it was before. My FIL had a large piece of liver removed and he now has a huge stomach where the liver has grown outwards..


Sienna7657 · 04/05/2021 11:48

All theoretical at the moment, havent discussed this with anyone yet

OP posts:

NeilBuchananisBanksy · 04/05/2021 11:52

I don't think it would be a quick process, you would need to be tested and prepped.

They might not think she's medically fit enough for the transplant too.

This will be life changing for you as well so think carefully. What would happen to your kids if you had complications and couldn't work anymore or what if you died? (It will be rare but you need to think of this).


CaraherEIL · 04/05/2021 11:52

They will do a lot of tests to see if you are a match and what proportion of your liver you would need to donate. They will then be able to tell you what the risks are based on the percentage of your liver you would need to donate depending on position of arteries etc. You liver will regenerate back to it’s original size within 6 months.


Frustratedbeyondbelief · 04/05/2021 11:52

I wouldn't hesitate. The only real risk to you is that which comes from any surgery. (Pretty small compared to your sisters chances of dying)

Money wouldn't come into it. In that we would find a way to manage. (I'm not saying that as someone with money - I don't)

To watch my sister die when I had the ability to give her a second chance ? There is no way I couldn't do it. The kids will be fine. It's three months disruption. Death is permanent.

Can the children's paternal family help at all ? Or if parents have money and you are saving their other daughters life - I'm sure they would be happy to pay for a nanny/mothers help for 3 months. I know mine would.


BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz · 04/05/2021 11:53

Could your films donate part of their liver?

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