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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:
sillysmiles · 04/05/2021 14:08

I think before tying yourself in knots about whether you would or your wouldn't I think you should talk to the transplant team and find out if you are compatible and if you are eligible.

Personally I would. She is family. But you need to make the decision - when you have all your information.

Maggiesfarm · 04/05/2021 14:10

You are a great sister.

Find out first of all if you are compatible, there is more to it than blood types.

Then try to find some help for you and the children for your recuperation, work out what it will cost. Make sure your job is kept open for you.

Good luck.

me4real · 04/05/2021 14:10

The risks for you are fairly low and it'd make a big difference to her. I would want to feel I'd done all I can to stop her dying. If she died and I hadn't done it I'd feel really bad.

You don't get paid for doing, it but I think you get your expenses paid, which might include any loss of wages. You could look into what's covered by the expenses- it might even include help you need with the kids while you're ill.

me4real · 04/05/2021 14:11

I don't think work would be able to sack you for doing this.

OnlyInYourDreams · 04/05/2021 14:14

I would talk to the transplant team first.

Is she actually on the transplant list at the moment? Because if not then that could mean she’s not eligible for a transplant anyway. But just because you’re the same blood type etc doesn’t naturally make you a match, but there are professionals whose job it is to help you through this process who will explain more.

It’s a very personal decision, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Gingerkittykat · 04/05/2021 14:16

Yes, I would without hesitation. If you go ahead take every bit of financial help your parents and sister can give.

Having said that they were going through the process to put my dad on the kidney transplant list and there is no way I would have donated. This is partly because he had been abusive growing up, partly due to potential risks of me only having one kidney in later life and partly because my DD also has a kidney disease which might mean she needs a transplant in future.

What does your gut say? Either option has serious risks and you need to balance them.

notapizzaeater · 04/05/2021 14:19

Before I made any decision I'd speak to your sisters doctors and see if she's capable of having a transplant. How long would it take to go through the tests?

BluePeterVag · 04/05/2021 14:20

I would not do this either. It would be agonising, but I would not take the risks due to impact on my children’s lives. I’m sorry for your stress with your sister Flowers

Hohofortherobbers · 04/05/2021 14:23

No I wouldn't do this whilst I had dependent dc. What would happen to them if something went wrong?

formynexttrick · 04/05/2021 14:25

Speak to the doctors so you know if it's a realistic option at least.

I think in your position I'd have to do this.

BUT - ask your family for help with money for the DC. You are providing a solution to a family problem at great cost to yourself. It's completely reasonable for the family to support you financially with the impact of this on your DC and you, in fact it's unreasonable of you not to ask them if you'd struggle./

diddl · 04/05/2021 14:26

I'm a selfish person.

I don't think that I could put myself through major surgery that would have no benefit to me.

Fairystory · 04/05/2021 14:28

If your sister is as ill as you describe, she is unlikely to be on the transplant list as she is probably too weak to withstand such major surgery. Also, despite your close relationship, if you have not been tested, you do not know if you would be a suitable donor.
You cannot consider being a donor unless it is confirmed she is on the transplant list and you are a suitable donor. Only then can you think if you wish to do it. With such young children, I would advise against.

Candyfloss99 · 04/05/2021 14:28


I'm afraid that if my sister does not get this transplant she will not be able to survive for more than a couple of months. She has 0.04% body fat and malnutrition because of her liver damage. She is also having kidney dialysis because her liver is not functioning properly anymore. Her blood pressure drops dramatically without medication and she is struggling to breathe.
She is also starting to get confused because of the level of toxins in her body (her toxins are not being cleared up because of how much damage she has done to herself).
She is just homesick and alone, in ICU.
I am completely heartbroken. She is my only sibling in the world and I adore her. But my kids came into this world without asking to be here. It's my responsibility and duty to take care of their needs.

I would donate part of my liver if it means she will survive. How will you live knowing you could have saved her?
Eddielzzard · 04/05/2021 14:28

I personally think asking for help while you help your sister is completely reasonable and understandable and I would expect your family to help out financially even if they can't help practically. BUT if it's not clear that your sister can even have a transplant, and it's a long shot then I wouldn't for the sake of your children.

So sorry you're dealing with this awful situation.

ChloeCrocodile · 04/05/2021 14:31

It’s a very personal decision, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Absolutely this. Giving a part of your own body to another person is huge. It is easy for some people to say "I'd do it without hesitation" when they aren't in a position to take the risk. Similarly, it is easy to say "no way" when they aren't facing losing a sibling. If you need professional support to come to a decision, please speak to the transplant team. They are there to make sure that anyone donating is suitable mentally as well as physically and they will not impose personal agendas nor disclose any discussion you have with them to your family.

butterpuffed · 04/05/2021 14:36

Op, I know you've said you don't think your sister is well enough for a transplant but surely that's the decision of her transplant team ?

I guess they've told you of the pros and cons, how much information have they given you ?

AbsentmindedWoman · 04/05/2021 14:41

Christ on a bike there are some unfeeling bastards on this thread.

There sure are.

Even if certain posters believe it would be the wrong thing to do to volunteer as donor - there seems to be a complete lack of understanding how painful this whole process is for the OP.

As if she can just shrug off her sister's predicament like tossing a piece of rubbish away, cause oh well she brought it on herself with her drinking Hmm

A lot of alcoholism starts and develops as a desperate attempt to self-medicate things like depression because either there is no support available, or people are trapped in Shit Life Syndrome where there really is no way out.

Considering becoming a living donor requires a huge amount of thought and ultimately will not be the right decision for many people - but fuck me, would it kill some posters to realise that the OP loves her sister and wishes there was something she could do.

I imagine it is hurtful for the OP to read some of the more brutal remarks about her sister's deservingness.

RaveOnThisCrazyFeeling · 04/05/2021 14:41

I would risk my life to save my adult sibling.

But I wouldn't risk my young children's chance at a stable, happy upbringing. And as a single parent, that is what your wellbeing represents for your two young children and what you would be putting on the line. I wouldn't see my health as my own to risk, in your circumstances.

It would break my heart but I'd have to put the children first.

diddl · 04/05/2021 14:41

"I would donate part of my liver if it means she will survive. How will you live knowing you could have saved her?"

It's not a given that Op could save her now or ever is it?

Puzzledandpissedoff · 04/05/2021 14:41

I dont think my sister is strong enough for a transplant

I was wondering about that; agonising as this is, you could easily compromise yours and your DCs' future and lose her anyway - and I'm afraid that, under the circumstances you've described, I wouldn't even consider it

Do be aware, though, that your thread will probably be deleted; for some reason "transplant threads" almost invariably are, even the calm and measured ones

Puzzledandpissedoff · 04/05/2021 14:44

I guess they've told you of the pros and cons, how much information have they given you?

OP said that this is theoretical ATM and that she hasn't yet discussed it with anyone, so I expect that would include the transplant team?

notalwaysalondoner · 04/05/2021 14:45

I personally would do it - only if I was confident she wouldn't drink again (and comfortable with the risk she might), and also on the condition that between my parents and my sister (preferably mostly my sister) paid for serious childcare support, preferably a live-in nanny, while I was recovering for those 3 months. And I'd thrash out the exact details of that before anything was committed to from my side.

Your comment about 'my children are my responsibility' just doesn't stand when the sole reason you can't look after them as normal is because you've donated an organ to your alcoholic sibling... in this instance, they are also the responsibility of the sibling until you are recovered.

MMMarmite · 04/05/2021 14:48

I think you need more information. Is she well enough to go through the surgery? Are you actually a match? What is the risk to you, and what will recovery actually look like?

Is there a way you can get this information without getting pressurised to go through with it?

I think either choice is completely reasonable.

Financially, the wider family should absolutely help compensate you for list earnings and childcare costs, if you choose to do this. It shouldn't all fall on you.

Volcanoexplorer · 04/05/2021 14:52

This is a terrible situation to be in, but I really don’t think you can help. Your children are so young and they need you. It might sound harsh, but I think you need to prioritise your children.

ohsuzannah · 04/05/2021 14:59

George Best comes to mind Sad

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