Was the human anatomy created with living kidney donation in mind? It seems so.
Kidneys remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood. A person is born with two. But studies show that one kidney is enough to keep the body healthy.
The national waiting list for organ transplants is more than 119,000 names long, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Of these, more than half need a kidney. The best option for a patient waiting for a kidney is to receive one from a living donor, and overall risks for a living kidney donor are considered to be low and about the same as the general population who have not donated a kidney.
What Are the Advantages of Living Donation?
According to the National Kidney Registry, kidneys transplanted from living donors may last nearly twice as long as kidneys from deceased donors. Additional advantages include:
- Wait times for patients with living donors are reduced from years to months.
- Since the living donor is often a close relative, there can be a better blood and tissue match and less chance of rejection.
- The transplant can be scheduled ahead of time.
- Kidneys from living donors begin to function immediately after transplant. (Kidneys from deceased donors may take several days or weeks before they begin to function normally.)
Who Can Be A Living Donor?
Most often, living donors are close family members, friends or co-workers. Becoming more common are non-directed donors who come forward to donate without knowing their recipients. Living donors are usually between 18-65 years of age. Gender and race are not factors.
If you are considering becoming a living donor, you and the recipient will be tested for compatible blood types. Further testing determines whether you have compatible tissue. You will undergo a physical exam to assure that both of your kidneys function normally. You should also be in good overall physical and mental health and free from uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and organ disease.
A psychological evaluation may be used to provide information, emotional support and assess motivation. Also, your decision to become a living donor should be voluntary and free from internal or family pressure.
The transplant center will also discuss any financial and insurance issues. The recipient generally pays the cost of the living donor’s evaluation, testing and surgery, and therefore, the donor should not incur any medical expenses. However, time off work and travel expenses need to be considered. A new Ohio law gives state employees time off work for donating.
If you have questions about living kidney donation or would like to talk to a staff member in the Pre-Transplant Office, please call 614-293-6724 or 800-293-8965. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read a success story about living organ donation
If becoming a living organ donor is not possible, consider giving blood or bone marrow. And sign an organ donor card and share your wishes with your family.