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Health Blog :: Looking for a Kidney Donor?

June 14, 2021

When you have advanced kidney failure one of the treatment options is to receive a kidney transplant. Transplants can come from two sources, living donors or deceased donors. You can be put on a waiting list after compete evaluation when your GFR falls below 20 ml/min. If your kidney doctor recommends that you pursue a kidney transplant, you must first be referred and evaluated for a transplant by a transplant center (a specialized hospital that does kidney transplants). A complete evaluation is performed to make sure that you are a good candidate and qualify for a kidney transplant. This is done by a team of experts in the field. It is highly recommended that this evaluation to be done before any potential living kidney donors can be considered. This assures recipient adequate health to undergo a major surgery to receive the kidney transplant and to secure the best outcome and success. If you have not been evaluated for a kidney transplant yet, but would like to do so, you can ask your kidney doctor for a referral to a kidney transplant center. Kidney transplant centers near you can be found on this page.

The transplant center team can teach you about living and deceased donation options. Make sure that you are active on the waiting list for a transplant from a deceased donor, even if you are looking to get a kidney from a living donor. There are clear advantages to living kidney donation: First, there is no long waiting list. The surgery date can be selected in advance so the donor and recipient can schedule time off work and arrange transportation to and from appointments. Lastly, the results with live transplant are better. In general, deceased donor kidneys do not last as long as kidneys from living donors.


What does my living kidney donor have to do?

Any family members or friends who are interested in donating to you can contact your transplant center (ask for the “Transplant Coordinator” assigned to you) for information and to begin the evaluation process. Every center has its own process.

How can I ask someone to be my living kidney donor?

Where do you begin when you need a kidney transplant? When starting a conversation with a potential donor you may want to share a little about your condition and what kidney failure means. You may want to talk about if you are on dialysis or are about to go on dialysis. You may want to share that your kidney physician recommends a living donor kidney for the best results and outcomes. At that point, the person you're talking to is either going to shy away or change the subject, or they may start to become curious, voice an interest, and start asking more questions.

You can continue by letting them know that living donation is safe and many donor surgeries are performed every year. You can get the stats from the transplant center during your visit with them. Most donors can return home a day or two after surgery with a very low risk of complications. The surgery is minimally invasive and is mostly done laparoscopically with tiny incisions. Your insurance, the recipient's insurance, covers the evaluation, surgery and post-operative care. Recovery is very quick and within four to six weeks, living donors are back to doing everything they did before they donated a kidney.

Talking to your family and friends about your kidney failure and need for a kidney donor is just the first step towards a donation process. While it may be uncomfortable asking people to donate, it may be helpful to make people aware of your need for a kidney donor. That way, someone may become interested in pursuing kidney donation, and they can ask for more information. You can also refer people to some inspirational videos online, from people who have donated. The Big Ask Big Give website is especially informative in this regard.

The are many avenues of sharing information. Telling co–workers, community organizations, social groups, people at place of worship that you need a kidney transplant, or sharing your story through social media and local newspapers or magazines might inspire people. Educating your family and friends about kidney transplantation may motivate and encourage a donation.

What if I don't have a living kidney donor?

If you do not have a designated living donor, and are a suitable transplant candidate, you can still be placed on a deceased kidney donor waiting list. You will need to work through your transplant center to discuss other options which might be available.

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