Helpful Information About Living Kidney Donation to Prepare You When Seeking a Donor
You need a kidney. Can a family member or friend help you?
You have been referred to our program because you need a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, the need for organs is far greater than the supply and many patients face a long waiting time. This unfortunate situation means that you might wait three years (or more) to receive a kidney from a deceased donor.
You do have an option, and it is a better one: receive a kidney from a living donor. This donor might be a family member, spouse, or a friend, and it might surprise you how many people are willing to help. At Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, we perform an estimated 100 living donor transplants each year.
Why should you consider seeking this one-of-a-kind gift?
A living donor transplant is typically very successful. A kidney from a living donor is in good condition; this is assured due to extensive evaluation of the donor. Also, a kidney from a living donor does not require preservation time – it is walked from one operating room to another and thirty minutes later, it is working in its new home!
If you seek a donor early in your illness, before you’ve been on dialysis for an extended period of time, you have less risk of transplant failure than someone who is transplanted after long-term dialysis. Unfortunately, the longer you wait for a transplant, the harder it is for your body to recover.
With living donation, both the recipient and the living donor can be in optimal health at the time of the surgery. The transplant can be scheduled at the convenience of all persons involved.
Who can donate a kidney to you?
A donor can be anyone whose blood type is compatible with yours and is in good physical condition and generally healthy -- free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and organ disease. Gender and race do not matter and individuals considered for living donation are typically between the ages of 18 and 65.
What should you tell a potential donor?
The safety of the donor is of the utmost importance. You can tell your donor that he or she will be evaluated by a kidney specialist to confirm suitability and safety for donation and surgery. You can assure the candidate that donating a kidney will not cause illness or disease.
Once a donor has recovered from the surgery, he or she is able to return to a normal lifestyle. As a matter of fact, the life expectancy of living donors is the same as if they had not donated. The remaining single kidney is able to meet the body’s needs very well. It actually enlarges to do the work formerly shared by both kidneys.
If your donor is a woman who wishes to have children in the future, tell her that studies have shown that kidney donation does not affect completion of a safe pregnancy.
The operation may be done as laparoscopic surgery, which involves a smaller incision, requires a shorter hospital stay, and allows for a faster recovery. Typically, the hospital stay for a living kidney donor is two to four days.
There are always possible risks with any surgery; however, these are reduced by the extensive evaluation done on all donors.
Who pays for the surgery?
For the living donor, there is no out-of-pocket cost. All fees are covered. However, time away from work as well as travel expenses need to be considered. For the recipient, the transplant staff members will review insurance coverage, and discuss financial issues with you. It is possible that you may have some out-of-pocket expenses.
A pre-transplant financial counselor is available to answer any questions you or your donor may have.
If you have questions about the advantages of receiving a kidney from a living donor, or would like to talk to a staff member in the Pre-Transplant Office, please call 614-293-6724 or 800-293-8965 (Option 3).
You can also learn more about living donor transplantation on these Web sites:
The Organ Procurement and Transplant Network
Lifeline of Ohio
United Network of Organ Sharing
Donate life America
National Kidney Foundation
Living donor transplantation is special. Donating a kidney to someone with kidney failure can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. Do you know someone who wants to help you?
“When I saw him walk into my room for the first time, it made me feel like I had done something so special. I feel very blessed to have been able to be healthy enough to do this for my Dad. It’s not often as children that we get to express our love and thanks to our parents for all they do for us. This was just a small gesture of giving to my Dad for all the things he’s done for me in my life.”
-Andrea Cline, who donated a kidney to her father, Jimmy Harris