Children's Hospital Colorado

Cut-Down or Segmental Liver Transplants

We achieve some of the best outcomes in the nation by working with every medical and surgical specialty in the hospital to reimagine children’s lives.



What is a cut-down or segmental liver transplant?

Pediatric transplant surgeons at Children’s Hospital Colorado use every opportunity to place an organ with a child in need – even when the organ available is too large for your child. During a cut-down or segmental liver transplant, transplant surgeons only use a portion of the donor liver for your child. This transplant option allows your child to receive the correct size transplant without having to wait for a whole organ transplant.

How does the transplant process work for cut-down or segmental livers?

An illustration of a whole liver on a blue circle with a dashed white line through it and a blue arrow pointing to an illustration of the liver cut open with veins and arteries hanging out.
  1. A liver becomes available to your child who is the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list. If this liver is too large for your, the transplant surgeon uses only the portion of the donor liver that the child needs.
  2. The transplant surgeon is able to use all of the major blood vessels and bile ducts, which allows them to have multiple technical options when transplanting this donor organ into your child. An illustration of a liver cut open and a blue arrow pointing from it to an illustration of a child with the liver showing.
  3. The donor liver blood vessels and bile ducts are connected to your child’s blood vessels and bile ducts, enabling the normal flow of blood and bile. After surgery, the cut edge of the transplanted organ continues to heal and make a complete seal. This transplanted “portion” of the liver will continue to grow with your child.

Benefits of a cut- down liver transplant in children​​

  • A child waiting for a liver transplant does not have to wait for a size matched organ, because the donated organ can be cut down to the correct size which gives your child the exact amount of liver mass he or she needs.
  • The donor organ retains all of the major blood vessels and bile ducts, which gives the surgeon multiple technical options to give your child a great outcome.

Frequently asked questions

What can liver recipients expect during recovery?

At Children’s Colorado, the hospital stay after a liver transplant is 10 to 15 days. After going home from the hospital, your child will see a board certified pediatric transplant hepatologist twice a week until they are fully recovered.

Kids should be fully recovered within four to six weeks and can then return to normal activities. Even as they return to normal activities, your child will continue to see the transplant team several times per year to maintain ideal health. At Children’s Colorado, our goal is to give your child a normal quality of life without experiencing limitations from an organ transplant. This means that they will eat a normal diet, play normally, go to school, and participate in their favorite activities.

Will the new liver grow with the child?

Yes, the liver is a regenerative organ; as your child grows, their liver tissue grows with him or her.

Will the organ be the same size as the one you remove?

When a child has liver disease, often their liver shrinks to less than the normal size and with less than normal function. The new transplanted liver will be a normal amount for their age and size, the right amount of for your child needs.

Contact us

For more information on live-donor liver transplants, please contact the liver transplant team at 720-777-6011.