Many people do not know that a living donation is an option for kidney transplants. Living kidney donation takes place when a living person donates one of their kidneys to someone in need of a transplant. This donor can be a friend, relative or anonymous donor. UofL Health developed the Living Kidney Donor Transplant Program to ensure the living kidney donor team helps patients navigate their kidney donation and provide donors and their recipients with a high-quality patient experience.
Qualifications for a good living donor candidate include:
- Donors between the ages of 18 and 74.
- Donors in good general health.
- Donors that have undergone an extensive screening process, in which the Living Donor Selection Committee determines whether the donor meets all selection criteria established by the transplant team.
The first step to becoming a living donor is to contact the Living Kidney Donor Program at 502-587-4358, option 5 (or 800-866-7539, option 5) and complete a medical history interview over the phone. After the initial screening, the donor must undergo a multidisciplinary evaluation by the transplant team to ensure the donor is physically, mentally and emotionally healthy enough to donate. Donor testing usually takes about two days – it includes blood work, urine collection for 24 hours and a CT of the abdomen. The donor is also examined by a nephrologist as well as a surgeon. The main goal of the transplant team is to make sure that the person donating the kidney is not going to suffer any long-term consequences on their own health.
Once all tests are completed, the donor’s results will be discussed at a multidisciplinary meeting. If approved by the committee, the donor and the recipient will have a surgery date set.
Living kidney donation typically involves a low-risk surgery to remove the kidney, followed by a one-to-two-day hospital stay and a home recovery of two to four weeks. Routine follow-up care will occur with the donor’s primary care provider yearly, or at the transplant center for at least two years after donation.