Accepting or declining an offer for a liver

Your liver transplant team will support your decision-making and guide you through the offering process

Key points

  • There may not be much time to decide whether a donated liver is suitable for you or not
  • Sometimes, there may be issues with the donor or organ that mean that the organ has a higher risk of failure or disease transmission than you or your transplant team are willing to accept
  • You may have problems, such as a recent infection, that makes you unsuitable to undergo transplantation at that time
  • It is up to you and your transplant team to decide whether to accept or decline an offer

Understanding the risks

Receiving an offer for a liver can bring about a rollercoaster of emotions. You may have been waiting a while for this moment and be desperate for the transplant to go ahead. But before it can, your transplant team needs to assess the likely risks and benefits of the offered liver and discuss these with you.

Every deceased donor and every liver are different. Some livers carry more risk than others. Sometimes the liver you are offered may carry a higher risk than either you or your transplant team are willing to accept.

Learn about the risks from a donated liver

Accepting an offer

If your transplant team thinks that an offered liver is suitable for you, they will tell you relevant information about the donor and the organ. 

The transplant team are not able to give you all of the information that they have about the donor. The donor’s name and personal details must be kept confidential. But you will be told if the donor has significant health problems that could affect how well the organ works after transplantation. Or if there are risks of transmitting infections or cancers.

If you decide to accept the offer and proceed with the transplant, you will be asked to come into the transplant centre.

View British Transplantation Society consent guidance (PDF 114KB)

Declining an offer

If you feel the organ is not right for you, you should decline the offer. The transplant centre will not force you to accept an organ offer. The transplant team is there to support you in your decision.

 If you turn down an offer for a reasonable reason then you will remain active on the transplant waiting list if you are otherwise well enough for a transplant.

Acceptable reasons for refusing an offer include:

  • Concerns about the risk of getting disease from the donor
  • Concerns about the liver being higher risk for possible complications
  • Concerns that the liver may not function for long enough

If the transplant team has concerns about the reasons for you turning down an offer, they may want to talk to you further. Your place on the transplant waiting list may be put on hold until this has happened.

Answers to common questions

More information

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