Kidney Donor Process

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Learn More About The Process of Kidney Donation

Donating a kidney is a physical and emotional journey for both the donor and his/her family, but you do not have to go through it alone. The APKD can connect you with other donors and recipients who can share their stories, answer your questions and guide you along the way.

Before Donation

If you are considering becoming a living kidney donor, the first step is to determine whether you are eligible. Do you fit the kidney donor criteria?

  • A physically and emotionally healthy adult, age 18-65
  • No high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis or HIV
  • No kidney, heart, liver or lung disease

If you are a suitable donor, the next step is a series of tests. Blood tests will rule out any viruses and provide tissue typing for precise matching. Urine tests are also required, and older adults will be tested for certain cancers. Women of childbearing age will also take a pregnancy test, as pregnant women are not eligible to donate.

The second round of testing includes heart tests, x-rays and evaluation by a surgeon. A transplant social worker or psychologist will evaluate you as well.

Each donor is assigned a Living Donor Advocate who will guide you through the remainder of the process, answer questions and provide support for both you and your family.

Knowing Your Recipient

If you know someone to whom you wish to donate, the APKD will enter both you and your intended recipient in our system as an incompatible pair. This will allow our algorithm to find potential matches for both of you.

Donating as a Good Samaritan

Some who choose to become living donors do not know someone in need of a transplant. These “Good Samaritan” donors are matched, via our algorithm, with the best possible candidate.

During Donation

Having a kidney removed is major surgery. As with all surgery, there are risks, including complications and even death. Although the risk of someone dying from donating a kidney is small, 3 in 10,000 or .03%, the risk is there and should be carefully considered.

In some cases, the living donor will travel to the recipient’s transplant center for surgery. In most cases, the donor’s kidney is removed at a home transplant center and shipped to the new recipient.

After Donation

Kidney donation recovery time will vary, but most donors will be in the hospital two to seven days after the surgery, depending on the type of surgical procedure. Many donors resume normal activities about a month after surgery. Depending on the nature of work, donors may return in four to six weeks or less. If your work involves strenuous physical labor, your doctor may recommend waiting longer.

Generally there are no long-term problems. However, with any surgery, complications can occur.

Although studies have shown that kidney donation does not affect the completion of a safe pregnancy and childbirth, it is typically recommended to wait to become pregnant at least six months after surgery.

Financial Implications

While there is no cost for testing prior to the transplant procedure, the transplant procedure itself or medical care involved in the transplant procedure, there is no compensation either. In fact, it is against the law for organ donors to be paid for donation.

For many, becoming a kidney donor is an emotional decision, but the financial impact should be carefully considered. Choosing to donate a kidney can mean taking four or more weeks off of work, depending on the physical nature of your job. Some employers offer paid leave for organ donation, but many do not. We encourage potential donors to learn about their workplace policies and make an informed decision.

Find Out More

For more kidney transplant information, read our frequently asked questions.  Continue the conversation and connect with a donor advocate for additional information or to begin the process of becoming a living kidney donor.

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