• Bookmark this Page
  • Print this Page

Becoming a Kidney Donor

Kidney Donation: The Gift of Life

Kidney donation is the most frequent type of living organ donation. There is little risk for the donor to live with one kidney because the remaining kidney compensates to do the work of both kidneys.

The first live kidney transplant was done in 1954 in Boston. It was a successful transplant between identical twins. Living kidney donation has come a far way since then. Now, you don't even have to be related to the person in order to donate your kidney. Donating a kidney is a great way to donate life! We're ready to assist you with making a difference in someone's life.

Donor Requirements

In order to be a kidney donor, you have to be in good health and be free from high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Usually donors are between the ages of 18 to 60. You definitely cannot be younger than 18 but if you are over 60 and in excellent health you can be considered if the recipient is in the same age range.

As a donor, you have to undergo blood tests to see if your blood type is compatible with the recipient. Gender and race are not factors. The following lists the blood types that match:

  • O (donor) can donate to O, A, B, AB (recipient)
  • A (donor) can donate to A, AB (recipient)
  • B (donor) can donate to B, AB (recipient)
  • AB (donor) can donate to AB (recipient)

If There Is a Proper Type Match

If your blood type is compatible, you will need to have more testing to make sure you can donate your kidney. Those tests include:

  • Meeting with a transplant nephrologist, a kidney doctor who specializes in transplant medicine
  • Meeting with a surgeon, who will evaluate you and surgically remove the kidney for donation
  • Meeting with a transplant coordinator, who will help organize your entire transplant/donation experience
  • Meeting with a social worker, who will discuss what you should expect from being a kidney donor and will make sure that you have social support throughout and after the donation
  • Blood tests: you and the donor will have a cross match to see if there is any reaction when we mix your blood together; also, we will test your blood to make sure that you are in good health
  • Chest X-ray
  • EKG or heart tracings
  • Urine tests: urine analysis and 24-hour urine analysis
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • CAT scan of the abdomen
  • Dental clearance
  • PPD test for tuberculosis
  • Women will need Pap smear, pregnancy test and mammogram (if you are of age)

You may need to repeat certain tests as the need arises. This is because we are being very thorough to make sure you won't be at any increased risk.

After Receiving Donor Clearance

Once we have received all of your tests and you have been cleared by the kidney doctor and the surgeon and the recipient has also been cleared, we can schedule the date for the transplant.

There are a few more appointments that you both will need though.They include:

  • A final cross-match where we recheck your bloods to make sure that there aren't any new reactions.
  • The both of you will need to meet with the anesthesia team.
  • Finally, we will need to get your consent for the surgery.  Here you will meet with each of your surgeons and the full details of the surgery will be covered. You can ask anything that you may have forgotten. Don't worry, though; you can always give us a call whenever a question arises.

Before Surgery

The night before surgery, we will ask you not to eat or drink at least 12 hours before surgery.

You will be asked to come to the hospital the day of surgery. Right before surgery, the anesthesia team will connect an intravenous line so that fluids can be given to you. You will be brought to the operating room. There you will see your surgeon before you are given medications to put you to sleep.

The Surgery

The majority of kidney donations are done by laparoscopic surgery. Our program is the first in the world to perform the LESS Donor Nephrectomy through which the kidney is removed through a single small incision in the abdomen. Cameras and other instruments are placed inside. The surgeon uses the camera to look inside. This is shown on a big television monitor in the operating room. The cuts are small and allow you to heal a lot faster. There is some pain from the surgery and you will be given medication to help control it.

After Surgery

You will wake up in the recovery room and monitored there for a few hours. Afterward, you will be brought to the hospital floor for the remainder of your stay.

We expect to send you home two days after the surgery. In general, you follow up with the surgeon seven to 10 days after the surgery. You will be given an exact date for the follow up appointment before leaving the hospital.

Being a Kidney Donor Is a Great Thing!

You reduce the need for the recipient to go on or stay on dialysis.

Transplants from living donors are often more successful because of having a better match and it cuts down the amount of time the kidney is cut off from blood supply. Remember, your surgery is happening the same time as the donor's surgery in the room right next door. Once the kidney is taken out, it goes right into the recipient.

Back to Top