Living Donors

Click below to learn more about donating to anyone or to a specific person:

Thinking about donating to anyone who needs it (anonymous or non-directed donation)?

Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The living donor is usually a family member or friend of the recipient.
If you are thinking about being a non–directed living donor, you should follow these steps:

  1. Educate Yourself
      To begin, you should first read everything you can about living donation, outcomes, risks, and benefits.

    On living donation

      Read the Q&A carefully to ensure that you understand the risks and benefits, the evaluation process, surgery process, and possible outcomes.

    Consensus Statement on the Live Organ Donor

      The Consensus Statement was published in the December 13, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Table 1 lists elements of disclosure for potential living donors — meaning, these are all the things you should ask the transplant center prior to donation. That way you can make an informed decision.
  2. Consider Your Reasons
      Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of donation. Think about your reasons for wanting to donate, and the impact of the donation on you and your family – emotionally, physically, and financially.
  3. Important Note
      Living donation is a gift made from the donor to the recipient with no expectation of material compensation. Under U.S. law, it is illegal to buy or sell organs. Donors are never financially compensated. Under federal law, it is illegal to receive money or gifts in exchange for an organ donation. In addition, donors are often responsible for their own travel expenses and any time lost from work.
  4. Request Information
      If you decide to pursue donation, you will need to contact transplant centers (hospitals that perform transplant operations) in your area about the possibility of being a living donor. Or, you can contact other organizations that help facilitate living donation.

    • You can find a list of all U.S. transplant centers by state online here.
      • Under Step 1, select a Member Type: choose “Transplant Centers”
      • Under Step 2, choose the state of residence (or surrounding states)
      • Call and ask for the “Kidney Transplant Coordinator”, who will be a registered nurse who can help.
      • If the center accepts non–directed donors, you will undergo rigorous physical and psychological testing to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for donation. This process is not easy, and does take time. You can find out more about the evaluation process in the NKF’s Q&A on living donation.
  5. What Else Can I Do? You may not be able to be a living donor – or you may decide that living donation isn’t right for you.
        The decision to become a living donor must be made voluntarily and free from pressure. Individuals have the right to decide that kidney donation is not for them. Likewise, some individuals with kidney failure may decide they do not want a transplant or choose not to consider a living donor. The decision of the potential donor and recipient must be respected. Living donors may change their minds at any time during the evaluation process without fear of embarrassment or repercussions:You can still help those awaiting life–saving organ transplants. Here are a few ways you can make a difference.

    Donate Life. (Be a donor in Louisiana)

    Be a Donor after your death.  (www.organawareness.org)

    Donate blood, which also saves lives every day. For more information about blood donation, call the American Red Cross at (800) GIVE–LIFE or visit their website.

    Join the bone marrow registry. For more information about bone marrow or blood stem cell donation, contact the National Marrow Donor Program at (800) MARROW2 or visit their website.

Thinking about donating to a specific person (such as a family member, friend, acquaintance, co-worker, etc.)?

Here are the steps to be evaluated as a living donor to a specific person (such as a family member, friend, acquaintance, co-worker, etc):

  1. First, the potential transplant recipient must be evaluated for a transplant.   A hospital that does transplants (transplant center) needs to evaluate the person to make sure they’re a good candidate for a transplant and that they would benefit from having a transplant.
    • This must happen before any potential living donors can be considered.
    • The potential recipient can ask his or her doctor for a referral to a transplant center.
    • You can also can also find a list of all U.S. transplant centers at http://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/members/search.asp
      • Under Step 1, select a Member Type: choose “Transplant Centers”
      • Under Step 2, choose the state of residence (or surrounding states)
      • Call and ask for the “Kidney Transplant Coordinator”, who will be a registered nurse who can help.
  2. If the potential recipient has been approved for a transplant, then any potential living donors can contact that hospital to ask about donation.
    • Talk with the “Kidney Transplant Coordinator” about the possibility of donating. The Kidney Transplant Coordinator will be a registered nurse who can answer any questions and get the process started.
    • If you live far away from that hospital, they may refer you to another hospital in your local area for initial tests. But, you still need to start by contacting the potential recipient’s hospital to begin the process.