Living Donor Program
At UAMS, we offer transplant services to patients who receive kidneys from living donors.
More than 118,000 people are listed for an organ transplant nationwide. Many face a lengthy wait for an available organ. To spare an individual patient a long and uncertain wait, relatives, loved ones, friends and even individuals who wish to remain anonymous may serve as living donors. About 6,000 transplants each year are made possible by living donors.
If you are considering living donation, it is critical to gather as much information as you can from various sources. If you know a person you would like to help through living donation, talk to him or her and the transplant program where the person is listed.
At UAMS, call us at 800-552-8026. The living donor coordinator will help you understand all aspects of the donation process, including the risks and benefits.
In 1954, the first successful living kidney donor transplant took place between identical twins. Since 1988, approximately 135,000 living donors have gone one to make a difference in the lives of relatives, nonrelatives and even total strangers with the gift of a kidney.
At UAMS, we performed our first living donor transplant on May 8, 1964.
Finance and Insurance
The transplant recipient’s insurance will cover your medical expenses as a donor, such as the evaluation, surgery and limited follow-up tests and medical appointments.
The Path to Becoming a Living Donor
Living donors go through a careful evaluation process and screening — not just to ensure the transplant is a success, but also to protect your health. Here are some steps you can expect:
- Phone screening. If you’re interested in becoming a donor, the first step is to contact a transplant center. You’ll be asked detailed questions about your medical history, and your primary care doctor can help you with this.
- Compability testing. Several blood tests are done to determine if a potential donor and transplant candidate are a match.
Blood type compatibility: This test determines if your blood type is compatible with the transplant candidate’s blood. Donors with blood type O are called universal donors because they are compatible with any other blood type.
Tissue typing: This test checks the tissue match between six markers on your white blood cells and the white blood cells of the transplant candidate. The more matches found, the better the chances te transplant may be successful over the long term.
Cross-matching: This text mixes, or cross-matches, blood cells from the transplant candidate and the potential donor to see how the transplant candidate will react to the donor’s organ. A negative cross-match means that the donor’s organ is compatible with the transplant candidate. On the other hand, a positive cross-match is an indication that the donated organ would most likely be rejected.
- Medical evaluations. After compatibility testing, you’ll undergo a physical exam and a few routine screenings, including a urine test, a chest x-ray and an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Radiological testing, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also done to provide the transplant/living donor team with a view of your kidneys.
- Psychological evaluations. A psychologist and social worker will assess your emotional well-being and ensure that you are comfortable with your choice to donate.
- United Network for Organ Sharing
- Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — Health Resources & Service Administration Data Warehouse
- Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network