FAQ Kidney Donation

Frequently Asked Questions About Donating a Kidney

Why should I become a living donor?

Choosing to donate a kidney is a serious and personal decision. While the benefits for the recipient are clear, the process is often a life-changing one for the donor as well. Donating a kidney means providing a higher quality of life for the transplant recipient and his/her family, which is an incredible gift to give. Some choose to donate because they know someone or are related to someone who needs a kidney. Others choose to because they know the need is great and the results are profound.

Who can donate?

  • 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.

What is a Good Samaritan donor?

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.

Are there risks involved?

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.

How long does it take to recover from surgery? When can I return to work?

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.

Is there a cost to donate? Will I be paid to donate?

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. 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.