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. Get answers to some of your questions by reviewing the FAQs below.
What is a living kidney donor?
Living donors are those that are healthy enough to share the gift of life through the donation of one of their healthy kidneys to a patient needing a transplantation
What is the benefit of living donation?
Sometimes, the transplants have less of a risk for rejection due to closer matches, often this is due to matches with family members. Living donors are healthy and the surgery is pre-scheduled.
How does someone become a living donor?
In order to be a living donor, the potential person must be healthy. The first step is to fill out an application on the “be a living donor” link above. Your medical history will be reviewed for issues or concerns. Then, if your health appears to be good, you will talk to the Living Donor Advocate for informed consent regarding the donation process. If you and the advocate agree that moving forward with the donation is appropriate, then testing will begin.
Compatibility 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.
- You will be evaluated by a team of trained providers. This team includes, nephrologists, surgeons, social workers, pharmacists, dieticians and nurses. You will be assigned a Living Donor Advocate who will work to represent your best interests at all times.
- Psychological evaluations: A social worker and/or psychologist will assess your emotional well-being and ensure that you are comfortable with your choice to donate.
Are there costs?
The cost of the exam and testing and surgery are paid for by the transplant recipients insurance. There are other costs that should be considered, these include your routine annual physical, travel, lost pay or other costs that are not medical. The law allows for organ donation to be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
What are my risks?
All surgery comes with risk. Organ Donation is no exception and the most common risks include pain or infection,
When would I have surgery?
If you are approved to be a living kidney donor, the surgery would be pre-scheduled and take you and the recipient’s health into consideration. The surgery could be canceled if there is a change in your or the recipients status.