A living kidney donor may be a patient's best hope for long-term survival. Kidneys donated by a living donor tend to last longer than those obtained after a person's death, and the recipient's long-term success rate usually is higher. It is not necessary for a donor to be a blood relative of the intended recipient.
The University Transplant team will determine if you are a match with your intended recipient based on a health screening, your blood type, and tissue typing. If you are interested in being tested to be a living donor, you will need to be up-to-date on your health and cancer screenings, such as Pap tests, mammograms, and colonoscopies.
The donation procedure involves using cameras to make small incisions, and most people are back to their regular routines within four to six weeks. Individuals who donate a kidney can live healthy lives with the kidney that remains. Donors have the opportunity to discuss questions and concerns with the transplant team during the evaluation.
The decision to donate a kidney should not be taken lightly. It is important to know that the evaluation or living donation process can be stopped at any point. The decision should be made with support from family/friends. Should the potential donor decide not to donate, the potential recipient will continue to receive care from the transplant team, dialysis center, and/or nephrologist. The potential recipient will remain on the waitlist for a deceased donor kidney throughout the process.
Donors must be in excellent overall health, at least 18 years of age, and capable of making an informed decision about their health.
Generally, potential donors are subject to weight restriction, must not have substance abuse problems, diabetes, cancer, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or kidney problems.
Additionally, donors are not eligible if there is suspicion that they are being coerced or if there has been illegal financial exchange between the donor and the recipient.
Potential donors should contact the living donor coordinator at (601) 984-5065 for information and an initial health screen over the phone.
The potential donor will need to undergo blood tests to determine compatibility with the intended recipient. The donor will need to have completed all gender and age appropriate cancer screens (Pap test for all women, mammogram for all women over 40, colonoscopy for all potential donors over 50) and forward the results to the transplant coordinator.
The donor evaluation involves an extensive medical history and physical exam. The independent living donor advocate—someone who makes sure the donor understands everything involved—will meet with the donor to ensure a decision is made with the donor’s best interests in mind.
When the evaluation is completed, the donor is presented during the living donor selection committee. The committee, which is made up of everyone you will meet during the evaluation process, decides if the donor is suitable to donate a kidney. University Transplant reserves the right to refuse a potential donor. Selection criteria and requirements may vary from center to center. Evaluation at UMMC does not exclude donors from being evaluated at other transplant centers.
Kidney donation is normally covered by the kidney recipient’s insurance. The donor evaluation, hospitalization, and follow-up are covered at no cost to the donor. Additional expenses that are not covered may include personal, travel, and housing expenses; child care, lost wages, and other individual cost considerations.
Resources may be available to help with some donation-related expenses. Please check with our transplant financial coordinator for information on charitable organizations, tax incentives, and compensation for federal or state employees.