Giving the Gift of Life
Despite ongoing efforts to encourage organ donation after death, there are still not enough kidney donors in the United States to meet the need, and more patients enter the wait list each year. Our living kidney donor program, allows friends, family members and altruistic donors to help those in need of a kidney transplant.
The first living donor kidney transplant in the United States was performed in 1954 between identical twins. Living donor kidney transplants did not become routine, however, until the development of modern medications that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of the new organ.
In 2001, the number of living donor kidney transplants in the U.S. exceeded for the first time the number of kidney transplants from deceased donors.
Becoming a living kidney donor
In order to give a kidney as a living donor, you must be at least 18 years old with few to no medical problems. As a potential donor, you will need to undergo a series of tests to ensure that it is safe for you to donate and that your kidney will be able to help the potential recipient.
Living organ donation is a highly personal decision, and we understand, respect and protect the health and rights of every potential donor. Extensive medical testing and psychiatric evaluations are an early part of the process, because there are risks associated with every surgery, including kidney donation surgery.
The costs of donor and recipient evaluation and the actual donation expenses are covered by the recipient’s insurance.
The kidney donation evaluation process
After completing the initial screening process, a physician from the kidney transplant team will discuss the donation process with the potential donor at length before any procedures are planned or performed. In addition to the information provided by members of our transplant team, potential donors also receive educational materials and access to support resources.
The evaluation process for a potential donor may take several months to complete. Complete health evaluations including blood work, imaging, emotional and behavioral evaluations require potential donors to schedule several examinations and appointments.
In especially urgent cases, when a potential donor is highly motivated, these exams may be scheduled in close succession. In rare cases, the evaluation regimen timeline may be condensed into as few as four to six weeks, depending on the donor’s health.