living donor

What does it take to be a living organ donor?

For patients with kidney disease who want to live a life free of dialysis, kidney transplantation is the best option.

Donor kidneys come from two sources. The first source is from deceased donors, or individuals who have passed away but still have viable, healthy organs. Unfortunately, the need for deceased-donor kidneys is far greater than the availability, which means patients often have to wait years for a transplant.

Living donation is the second source of donor kidneys and is an excellent alternative to deceased donation. The wait time for transplant can be a matter of weeks rather than years, and kidneys from living donors tend to work better and last longer than kidneys from deceased donors. About one third of kidney transplants performed in the United States come from living donation, which has increasingly become the gold standard in kidney transplantation.

Learn more below about who can become a living donor and what the process entails.

Becoming a living donor

Sharing the “gift of life” is a selfless act that can have a profound impact on someone else. The UK Transplant Center is committed to guiding you through the donation process, which includes the following:

  • A thorough evaluation to determine if donation is a safe option for you.
  • A multidisciplinary medical team involved in evaluation, surgery and follow-up care.

Living donor qualifications

In order to be a compatible living donor, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be in excellent overall health.
  • Have above average kidney function.
  • Have a willingness to help.

You do not have to be a blood relative of the recipient. A spouse, friend, coworker or anyone who is willing to help may be eligible to donate.

Evaluation

You will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire that will be reviewed by the Living Donor Committee. If approved to move forward, you will be scheduled for a thorough medical evaluation and screening process including lab work; testing; and social work, medical and surgical consultations. If the established criteria are met, your living donor transplant operation will be scheduled at a time convenient for you.

Surgery

You will be admitted to the hospital on the day of transplant and can usually go home two to three days after the procedure. The donor surgeon uses a laparoscopic technique with small incisions, shortening the recovery time in the hospital and generally allowing you to return to work within four to six weeks.

Cost

There is no cost to you or your insurance for medical care. You will be followed by the UK Transplant Center for two years after donation at no cost.


Next steps:

  • If you’re interested in being considered as a living donor, contact the UK Transplant Living Donor Program at 859-323-2467.
  • Learn more about the UK Transplant Center, which has performed more than 2,500 kidney transplants and has developed a reputation for excellence in kidney transplantation.