Living kidney donation

The Utimate Gift: A story of living organ donation

Watch this video of a mother and son describing their experience of living organ donation, and how it strengthened their already close bond. 

The national wait time for a deceased donor kidney transplant can be as long as six years. Living donations significantly decrease the wait time for patients in need of a kidney transplant.

Having a living kidney donor helps ensure that patients are in better health during transplant surgery by reducing their wait. It also helps people waiting for deceased donor kidneys by lowering the number of people on the waiting list.

Living donation does not change life expectancy for the donor, who can continue to lead a normal life after recovery from the surgery. Studies have shown that one kidney is enough to keep the body healthy by removing waste and excess fluid from the blood.

About living kidney donation

Living donation takes place when a person donates a kidney to someone in need of a transplant. The donor is often a close family member such as a parent, child or sibling, but can also be a spouse, more distant family member or friend.

At Hume-Lee, we offer laparoscopic donor nephrectomy using advanced robotic surgical systems, an innovative procedure offered at very few transplant centers that greatly improves the surgical experience for the donor. Patients experience much less pain post-surgery, and typical in-hospital recovery time is only two to three days. Many donors report feeling well within days and return to work within two to three weeks after the surgery.

Living donor paired exchange and chains

A living donor whose kidney is not compatible with their loved one can participate in a living donor paired exchange. In this process, donors give their kidney to a compatible patient, and that patient provides a donor whose kidney is compatible to your loved one. The surgery for the two donors and two recipients occurs simultaneously. This allows two recipients to receive a life-enhancing organ and meets the desires of the donors who wish to donate.

Hume-Lee also coordinates kidney exchange chains, in which one altruistic donor can kick off a series of transplants between donor/recipient pairs, either completely within Hume-Lee or in collaboration with other transplant centers across the nation. We are pleased to partner with national kidney exchange programs such as the National Kidney Registry, Alliance for Paired Donation, and the UNOS KPD program to offers these options to our patients.

Benefits

Living kidney transplantation has many advantages over kidney transplantation from a deceased donor.

Since the living kidney donor is often a close relative of the person getting the transplant, there is a better chance of a good genetic match and less chance of rejection. As a result, living donor kidneys tend to last twice as long as deceased donor kidneys. Also, lower doses of immunosuppressive drugs may be used with fewer side effects.

Other benefits include:

  • The transplant can be scheduled ahead of time, something that cannot be done if the recipient is on a waiting list for a deceased donor kidney transplant. This allows the recipient to plan for absences from work, child care and other obligations.
  • Kidneys that come from living donors generally begin to function immediately after the transplant, while deceased donor kidneys may take several days or weeks before they begin to function normally.
  • Kidneys from living donors don’t need to be transported from one site to another, so the kidney is in better condition when it is transplanted.

Risks

It is important to realize that although living donor kidney transplants are highly successful, problems may occur. Sometimes, the kidney is rejected or the original disease that caused kidney failure may return and cause the transplanted kidney to fail.

Patient guide

Download our guide on kidney donation and transplantation for additional reading: Kidney and kidney/pancreas pre-op booklet