Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important Information From Scripps Learn more

Becoming a Living Donor (video)

What it takes to become a living donor and give someone a new lease on life

What it takes to become a living donor and give someone a new lease on life

Randolph Schaffer III, MD, a transplant surgeon at Scripps Clinic, discusses what it takes to become a living organ donor, how it saves lives and why people volunteer to donate an organ or a piece of an organ while they are still living.

Video transcript

How can someone become a living organ donor?

To become a living organ donor, the first step is just reaching out to the transplant hospital where your recipient is waiting to get their transplant. It’s a little bit different than being on the registry list or signing up to be an organ donor at the end of your life.


Being a living organ donor entails going through careful testing and an evaluation process to make sure not only that you’re healthy enough to give an organ or a piece of an organ, but also to make sure that you really understand the steps and the process in doing that.

What is the process of becoming a living organ donor?

The living donor process is a staged evaluation. It starts with very basic screening and gets progressively more detailed, requiring more testing, whether it be labs, or X-rays, or other studies, consultation with a variety of specialists that have input on someone’s eligibility to donate, and essentially trying to answer three basic questions for that person: Are they medically healthy enough to be able to donate? Are they a good surgical candidate to undergo that kind of an operation? And, are they ready, willing and able to take on such an amazing gesture by going through a donation surgery?

What are the positive aspects of becoming a living organ donor?

The unique thing about being a living donor is that a completely healthy individual with no reason to be undergoing a major surgery to remove an organ steps forward to do exactly that. And the reason is because for themselves, there’s the personal satisfaction, the benefit of knowing you are making an amazing difference in someone else’s life. It may be a friend. It may be a family member or a loved one. It may be a complete stranger, but it’s that personal satisfaction of knowing you are giving someone a new lease on their life through a new organ and a successful transplant. That really is what drives the living donor process.

Watch more Ask the Expert videos now for quick answers to common medical questions.