Living Kidney Donation

You must be in good overall physical and mental health, and at least 18 years old. You may be related to the recipient, but that is not necessary.

Get Started

Contact Transplant Services request a living donor packet or speak with the living donor transplant coordinator:


  • You will make a positive difference in someone’s life, as a transplant can dramatically improve the recipient’s health and quality of life.
  • The surgery can be scheduled at the convenience of you and the recipient. As a result, you may help the recipient avoid years of waiting for a deceased donor kidney.
  • In general, kidneys from living donors have better long-term survival rates.

All of the evaluation and hospitalization costs are paid for by the program. The recipient’s insurance covers these medical expenses after he has received the transplant.

Costs that you should consider when donating include lost wages, transportation, lodging and childcare. If you qualify, there are resources available to provide financial help for travel, lodging, meals and other non-medical expenses. You will receive information from the National Living Donor Assistance Center, which helps make donation more affordable.

Evaluation

Living donor evaluation requires a thorough psychological and medical evaluation. A transplant coordinator will guide you through the process, which includes:

  • Blood typing
  • Psychosocial/psychological evaluation
  • Compatibility testing (blood draw)
  • Lab work
  • ECG
  • Chest X-ray
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan of your abdomen
  • Echocardiogram
  • A meeting with your team
  • Independent living donor advocate
  • Transplant social worker
  • Transplant dietitian
  • Transplant nephrologist
  • Transplant surgeon
  • Transplant coordinator
  • Transplant nurse

Depending on your age and risk, cancer screening through your primary care physician is required. This may include colonoscopy, mammogram, pap smear or prostate exam.

Surgery

The procedure for living donor surgery at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital is called hand-assisted laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. This requires a 3-to 5-inch incision around your naval with two or three 1-inch incisions in the abdominal area. The surgeon removes the kidney by hand through the midline incision.

You will stay in the hospital for two to four days, and recovery lasts about three to four weeks. You cannot lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for six weeks after surgery.

Tips for maintaining long-term health with one kidney:

  • Exercise at least four times a week for 30 minutes.
  • Eat a balanced and appropriate caloric diet.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat whole grains, and plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking over-the-counter medication or supplements for more than a week
  • Monitor you blood pressure. A desirable blood pressure is less than 120/70. You may need treatment if your blood pressure is greater than 130/80.
  • Stay well hydrated and drink at least 2 liters (about eight glasses) of fluid per day. Drink more if you are sweating.
  • Avoid high protein meal plans, such as the Atkins Diet, and high protein drinks. High protein diets can overwork and damage your kidney.
  • Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS). Talk to your primary care provider about alternatives if you need a pain reliever.
  • Avoid nicotine.