The actual risk of death in hepatic lobe donors for living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is unknown because of the lack of a comprehensive database. In the absence of a definitive estimate of the risk of donor death, the medical literature has become replete with anecdotal reports of donor deaths, many of which cannot be substantiated. Because donor death is one of the most important outcomes of LDLT, we performed a comprehensive survey of the medical and lay literature to provide a referenced source of worldwide donor deaths. We reviewed all published articles from the medical literature on LDLT and searched the lay literature for donor deaths from 1989 to February 2006. We classified each death as "definitely," "possibly," or "unlikely" related to donor surgery. We identified 19 donor deaths (and one additional donor in a chronic vegetative state). Thirteen deaths and the vegetative donor were "definitely," 2 were "possibly," and 4 were "unlikely" related to donor surgery. The estimated rate of donor death "definitely" related to donor surgery is 0.15%. The rate of donor death which is "definitely" or "possibly" related to the donor surgery is 0.20%. This analysis provides a source document of all identifiable living liver donor deaths, provides a better estimate of donor death rate, and may provide an impetus for centers with unreported deaths to submit these outcomes to the liver transplantation community.