Living donation is a transplant surgery performed between two living adults. Typically, a blood relative, spouse, or close family friend donates one of their kidneys to the patient in need. Donors can live a normal, healthy life with only one kidney.
Benefits of living kidney donation
Among the many benefits of receiving a kidney from a living donor:
- It eliminates the waiting period and the negative impact of waiting on the recipient’s health
- Surgeries can be scheduled at a convenient time for both the donor and recipient
- If the living donor is a blood relative with a genetic match, the risk of rejection is decreased
- A kidney from a live donor typically works sooner and better than a kidney from a deceased person
- A kidney from a live donor lasts longer than a kidney from a deceased person
- We offer laparoscopic donor surgeries resulting in a shorter hospital stay, less pain, and faster recovery for living kidney donors.
Can I donate a kidney?
To qualify as a living kidney donor, you must:
- Be over the age of 18
- Have a compatible blood type with the patient requiring the organ
- Be in excellent medical and psychological health
Most donors are family members (spouse, parent, sibling, son, daughter, nephew, niece) of the recipient or a close, personal friend. Once you’ve made the decision that you want to be a living kidney donor, a series of tests must be performed to determine if you are an eligible candidate. Before you begin the testing process, you need to know your blood type.
First phase of testing for living kidney donation
- Medical history and screening questionnaire
- Blood tests (screening tests and possibly tests for compatibility with the potential recipient)
- Urine studies, including a 24-hour urine collection
Second phase of testing for living kidney donation
- Chest X-ray and EKG
- Evaluation and discussion of the donor surgery with a transplant surgeon
- Evaluation and consultation with a social worker for a "psychosocial screening"
- Evaluation and consultation with a nurse coordinator
- Consultation with the Independent Living Donor Advocate
- 24-hour urine collection
- Any additional testing deemed necessary based on the results of the initial tests
These tests will generally be completed in one visit. It is preferable that the testing be done at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver by members of our kidney transplant team. However, potential donors from outside of Colorado may undergo some of these tests in their local community, preferably at another transplant center in consultation with our transplant team.
If all of these tests show that you are a suitable donor, one final study to assess your kidney anatomy is required. The donor surgery and kidney transplant may then be scheduled for the earliest appropriate time for you and the recipient.
Frequently asked questions: living kidney donation