To donate a kidney, you must be in good physical and mental health. As a general rule, you must be 18 years of age or older. You must also have normal kidney function. If you have two healthy kidneys, you may be able to donate one of your kidneys to a person with kidney failure.
If you have kidney failure, having a kidney transplant may mean a longer, healthier life without dialysis. Learn more about kidney donation and transplant. The reason most hospitals suggest a minimum age of 18 for kidney donors is not because a young kidney is too small. Studies have shown that a kidney from a 6-year-old child is okay to be transplanted into an adult.
In addition to the possibility of receiving a transplant sooner, living donors also provide a kidney that will last much longer than a kidney from a deceased donor. Your parents, adult children, siblings, other relatives, in-laws, and close friends may be considered for living kidney donation. Sometimes people offer themselves as living donors without a designated recipient and donate a kidney to someone they don't know. Our transplant team is always available to ensure that all your questions receive a thorough answer, whether you need a transplant or are considering donating.
We offer education and counseling to help you make important decisions. A living donation from a family member or friend or is it called a directed donation. Most living kidney donors are biological relatives, such as a father, brother or sister with a close blood and tissue match that reduces the risk of organ rejection. People who are not biologically related, such as couples or close friends, can also donate, if they are compatible.
Even if you have no health complications, the surgeon who will operate on you will make the final decision on whether to allow you to donate a kidney. Since the mid to late 1990s, advances in surgical techniques have dramatically improved cosmetic outcome following live kidney donation. You should also meet with a psychologist and an independent living donor advocate to make sure you are mentally and emotionally prepared to donate one of your kidneys. Living donors are free to withdraw confidentially at any time during the donation evaluation process and are not required to donate.
If you want to be a living donor, you will need to undergo a medical examination with blood tests to make sure you are healthy enough to donate a kidney. Donors must be free of any pressure or guilt associated with donation and cannot be paid for their donation. If you have two healthy kidneys, you may be able to donate one of your kidneys to improve or save someone else's life. A donor kidney from a living person is likely to stay healthy longer than one from a deceased donor.
Tests and surgery for a kidney donation are usually covered by the insurance of the person receiving the kidney, although it may not cover travel expenses and lost income due to lack of work. Non-directed donors, or altruistic donors, are people who choose to donate a kidney to an unknown recipient. After donation, the remaining kidney of the living organ donor will be enlarged, doing the work of 2 healthy kidneys. This type of surgery uses smaller incisions, causes less scarring, and may mean a shorter recovery time from kidney donation.
The motivations of each donor can vary greatly, and each donor has a unique experience as they progress through the process of donating their kidney, from the initial decision to be evaluated as a potential donor to years after the donation occurs. Paired renal exchange is another form of living donation that helps increase the number of living donors and recipients. .