Organ Donation Saves Lives
Many people do not realize that for kidneys, a living donation is an option. 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 - Trager Transplant Center provides minimally invasive surgical techniques which result in shorter hospital stays and a quicker recovery time. The transplant team includes surgeons, nephrologists, psychologists, transplant coordinators, social workers and an independent living donor advocate who all work together to ensure you have the best-personalized care.
UofL Health - Jewish Hospital performed its first living donor kidney transplant in 1964 and survival outcomes at our transplant center are consistently above the standard living donor recipient statistics. In recent years, all recipients who received a living donor kidney were still alive and well one year post-transplant as opposed to 97% of those recipients who received deceased donor organs. The rates are excellent for both living and deceased donor transplants but are even stronger for those who are given the gift of life by a living donor. There are many benefits to living kidney donation, including better outcomes for the organ recipient, decreased wait time for a transplant and advanced preparation time for surgery.
Donating a kidney is one of the most generous things you could do during your lifetime; however, the decision to donate a kidney requires careful consideration and investigation. The living kidney donor team at U of L Health – Trager Transplant Center is prepared to help you navigate living kidney donation and provide both you and your recipient with a high-quality patient experience.
For more information, please contact the Living Donor Program directly at 502-587-4358 option 5.
You may also complete the referral form here.
Living Donor Candidates
Generally speaking, living donors are in excellent health and undergo an extensive screening process. To be considered an appropriate donor a person must be/have:
- Highly motivated to donate and free of coercion or monetary gain
- Normal kidney function
- No active or recent cancer
- Normal cardiovascular risk for anesthesia
- Age 18 – 74
Absolute reasons someone would not qualify for living kidney donation:
- Significant psychosocial instability or psychiatric disorders that may interfere with or prevent compliance
- Multiple/recurrent kidney stones
- Diabetes (Type I or Type II)
- Body Mass Index greater than 35
- HIV Positive
- Abnormal kidney function
- Non-reversible cardiac disease
- Hypertension requiring more than one medication
The final candidacy of each donor is determined after reviewing the evaluation by the Living Donor Selection Committee.
Living Donor Evaluation
In order to ensure every donor is prepared, both physically and emotionally for their donation, patient education and evaluation will be coordinated for all living donor candidates while maintaining confidentiality with a separation of donor and recipient teams.
The living kidney donor evaluation process uses a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, meaning our team is made up of healthcare professionals from various specialty areas. The multidisciplinary approach ensures each living donor candidate receives specialized, high-quality care when being assessed as a potential living kidney donor.
The living kidney donor evaluation consists of:
- Initial phone interview/medical history questionnaire
- Review of medical records, if applicable
- Education class
- Medical testing & diagnostic procedures include:
- Lab work from blood, including testing for compatibility with the recipient
- Lab work from urine, including testing of kidney function
- CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis to look at the structure of the kidneys and other internal organs
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) checks for electrical problems in your heart
- Chest x-ray to look at the structures in and around your chest
- Appointments with the surgeon, nephrologist (kidney specialist), social worker, psychologist, pharmacist, dietitian, and Independent Living Donor Advocate (ILDA)
All living kidney donor candidates are also required to remain current with normal health maintenance screenings as indicated by the American Cancer Society.
The costs associated with the testing and appointments included in living donor evaluation are covered by the transplant center. In addition, resources to help assist with lost wage reimbursement, travel and lodging and dependent care cost may be available.
Kidney Donation Options
Directed Kidney Donation
Directed donation occurs when a living donor identifies an intended recipient. This is the most common type of donation and consists mainly of family members or close friends of the recipient.
Non-Directed (Altruistic) Kidney Donation
Non-Directed donation occurs when a living donor wishes to donate a kidney but does not identify an intended recipient.
Paired Kidney Donation
When a living kidney donor and the intended recipient are incompatible, paired donation offers the recipient another option for transplantation. If the donor is agreeable, the living kidney donor and incompatible recipient exchange organs with another incompatible donor and recipient pair. The paired donation has the potential to create chains of multiple donors and recipient combinations within U of L Health Trager Transplant Center or chains may be created across different healthcare organizations.
Donor Surgery/Post Donation Care
The living donor nephrectomy (removal of the kidney) is completed using a minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgical technique. On average, the surgery lasts two hours, and living donors are monitored in the recovery room for a few hours before being transferred to the transplant unit. Living kidney donors can expect to be hospitalized from one to two days after surgery. Follow-up visits, occurring approximately two weeks after donation, may be completed at U of L Health Trager Transplant Center or in the donor’s local area. Most donors return to work after the initial follow-up visit; however, donors who are required to lift more than ten pounds will need to be off from work for six weeks after donation. Living donors are not financially responsible for the cost of the donor's surgery or hospitalization.
Long-term, living donors can expect to have a normal life span and require no special diet or restrictions. Transplant centers are required to submit data on the outcomes of living kidney donors for a minimum of two years following donation, and the costs associated with all required follow-up testing will be covered by the transplant center.