Kidney Transplant Donor / Living Kidney Donor
Kidney transplantation is an option for people suffering from End Stage Renal Disease. A successful transplant improves quality of life, freeing the person from chronic dialysis treatments and a restrictive diet.
Kidneys become available for transplant in two ways – from deceased donors or from living donors. Deceased donors are unrelated individuals who have recently died and donated their organs for transplantation. Living donors can be related individuals (from immediate or extended family) and unrelated individuals (persons with a longstanding relationship with the patient.) Patients who have no suitable living donor wait on a list for a deceased donor kidney to become available. In most cases the wait is several years!
Those patients who are fortunate enough to have a willing and healthy living donor can electively plan their transplant at a convenient time for both donor and recipient. Additionally, the success rates of living donor kidney transplants are higher than those of cadaver (deceased) kidney transplants.
Who May Be a Donor?
A living donor can be:
- A member of a person's immediate family – a parent, sibling, son or daughter (18 years or older)
- An extended family member (aunts, uncles, cousins)
- An unrelated person (spouses, adopted/step family members, or friends)
A person must be physically and emotionally healthy to donate a kidney. One should not assume that a pre-existing medical problem will prevent donation. The transplant team will carefully evaluate the potential donor to determine eligibility. The living donor must be an individual who truly wants to donate.
Donating a kidney is a very special act and truly a gift of life for a waiting recipient. It is very important that you feel comfortable about this entire process. Always feel free to ask questions or discuss your concerns with any member of the Transplant Team at Westchester Medical Center.
Living Kidney Donation
An individual who is interested in donating their kidney must be in good health and must get blood tests to check compatibility with the potential kidney recipient. This is followed by a complete medical evaluation which includes a history and physical, blood and urine tests, cardiovascular tests, cancer screening tests as appropriate for age, CT scan to check the anatomy of the kidneys and possibly other tests as needed.
This extensive testing is done to protect the donor. The donor is not responsible for any costs related to evaluation or surgery. A donor advocate, who is a volunteer not affiliated with the transplant program, reviews all the information with the donor to ensure that the potential donor is not being coerced to donate a kidney. After the evaluation is completed, the donor’s results are presented to an independent panel that review and decide whether or not it is safe for the donor to give a kidney. The transplant is then scheduled.
The donor’s kidney is removed using a minimally invasive technique known as laparoscopy. The donor usually remains in the hospital for one to two days, after which he or she is required to return to the Transplant Center for evaluation one and then two weeks after surgery, followed by regularly scheduled appointments for one year following donation. After that, the donor should follow up with his or her physician to be monitored at least once per year.