Deceased donors are people who have suffered brain death after a traumatic brain injury or a medical problem in the brain, such as hemorrhage. The families of these patients make the generous decision to donate their organs. The organ most commonly administered by a living donor is the kidney. Parts of other organs, including lung, liver and pancreas, are now transplanted from living donors.
A kidney transplant is surgery performed to replace a diseased kidney with a healthy kidney from a donor. The kidney can come from a deceased organ donor or from a living donor. Family members or other people who are compatible can donate one of their kidneys. This type of transplant is called a live transplant.
People who donate a kidney can lead a healthy life with a healthy kidney. The donated kidney is stored on ice or connected to a machine that provides oxygen and nutrients until the kidney is transplanted to the recipient. Donor and recipient are usually in the same geographic region as the transplant center to minimize the time the kidney is away from the human body. Unlike many other types of organ donation, it is possible to donate a kidney while it is alive because it only takes 1 kidney to survive.
This is known as living 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. 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. As a kidney donor, the risk of developing kidney failure later in life is no greater than that of a person in the general population of similar age, sex or race.
Once you have been matched with a living kidney donor, your kidney transplant procedure will be scheduled in advance. Both you and the recipient of the kidney (the person who received it) can live with only one healthy kidney. Many patients have family members or friends who want to donate a kidney but are unable to do so because their blood or tissue type does not match that of the recipient. People who need a kidney transplant, but don't have a suitable living donor, will have to wait until a suitable deceased donor kidney is available.
Ideally, live donations will come from a close relative because they are more likely to share the same tissue type and blood group as the recipient, reducing the risk of the body rejecting the kidney. Waiting times are so long because demand for donated kidneys in the UK far exceeds available donor supply. When the kidney is removed from a living donor, the remaining kidney is slightly enlarged and performs the same amount of work as the previous pair. Kidney donors are especially needed for people of non-white ethnicity, because kidney disease rates are especially high in people of ethnic origin in South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
In laparoscopic surgery on a donor kidney, the surgeon makes small cuts in the donor's stomach and the kidney is removed through an incision large enough to fit. However, kidney donors have the same life expectancy, general health and kidney function as non-donors. This program allows kidney transplants to be performed in patients who have developed antibodies against their kidney donor, a situation known as a positive cross-test. If you have kidney failure, having a kidney transplant may mean a longer, healthier life without dialysis.
AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions most at risk, to support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease, from prevention to life after transplant. .