Shimul Shah MD, MHCM
Chief of Organ Transplantation
University of Cincinnati Medical Center


If you or your loved one has been listed for an organ transplant, a living donor transplant may be an option for you. Living donors may donate a kidney or a portion of their liver. In rare instances, one may also be able to donate a portion of a pancreas, lungs or intestine.

While the majority of living donors are blood relatives, this is not a requirement. Living donors can be a friend or even an altruistic stranger.

Living donors made more than 7,300 transplants possible in 2019.

Advantages of Living Donation

The procedure can be scheduled at a time that works best for the donor and recipient.

Transplants from family members that have a strong genetic match with the recipient lower the risk of rejection of the organ.

Transplant patients who receive a living donor kidney usually see immediate function.

How To Start The Process.

If you’re interested in becoming a living donor contact transplant centers in your area to discuss the possibility of becoming a donor. The list of local transplant centers with living donor transplant programs and their links can be found below.




  • You should be physically fit and free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, kidney disease and heart disease.
  • You must be informed of the risks involved and have full medical and psychological evaluations to check for compatibility.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Your decision to donate must be voluntary.
  • You cannot be paid for the donated organ, because it is illegal under the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984.

Recovery times vary on an individual basis; however, most living donors are released from the hospital within 4-6 days and resume normal activities about four to six weeks after surgery.

Medical expenses for living donation are generally covered by the transplant recipient’s insurance plan. This includes expenses for your evaluation, surgery, and certain follow-up tests and medical appointments.

Costs outside of this protocol are not covered. For full details on financial aspects of the procedure, contact your transplant center.

In most cases transplant centers require follow-up appointments at six, 12 and 24 months after donation.

Non-directed donors are living donors who are not related to or known by the recipient. This type of donation is also known as anonymous or altruistic living donation. If you are interested in becoming a non-directed donor you can contact transplant centers in your area to discuss the possibility of becoming a donor.

Kidney Swap
© The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System.

A paired exchange donation involves two donor/recipient pairs whose blood types are not compatible. The two recipients trade donors so that each recipient can receive a same type organ with a compatible blood type.

You can change your mind at any time during the process. Your decision and reasons will be kept confidential.