As many know, it’s possible for a person to donate his or her organs, tissue and/or corneas upon death. However, many don’t realize you can also donate a kidney or part of your liver while living. In fact, the kidney is the most common organ donated by living donors.
About Living Donation
A living donation takes place when someone who is still alive donates either an entire organ or just a part of it to someone in need. Usually, the donor is someone who is closely related to the person that requires a transplant (sister, child, parent, or brother). However, it is possible to not be related and still donate, such as a friend, spouse, co-worker, or in some cases a complete stranger. After all, it is becoming more common for people to donate one of their organs anonymously, not knowing who is going to get their organ. This is called a non-directed donation.
With more than 3,000 new patients being added to the kidney waiting list each month, it’s more important now than ever for individuals to consider becoming a living kidney donor to help someone in need. It’s estimated that roughly 6,300 organ transplants of the estimated 35,000 organ transplants that took place in 2017 were performed thanks to living donors. However, a staggering 115,000 Americans are still on the waiting list.
Becoming a Living Donor
To become a living donor, you must first undergo an evaluation to determine if you’re a compatible match for the recipient and to confirm that you’re medically fit to be a kidney donor. Those who are determined to be medically fit are typically between the ages of 18 and 60 years old, in good health, and have no signs of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease or heart disease. In addition, the living donor must have a blood type that is compatible with the recipient’s blood type. If the living donor matches all of these requirements, they will then undergo a medical history review and complete physical exam, which may include tissue typing, cross-matching, an antibody scan, urine test, X-rays, arteriogram and psychiatric evaluation.
Surgery and Recovery
Once a living donor is approved, the surgery will be scheduled for a time that is convenient for both the donor and the recipient. A typical kidney transplant surgery takes roughly 3-4 hours, and recovery time varies from person to person. However, both parties can expect to remain in the hospital for no longer than a week. No matter how long a patient is in the hospital, they will need an additional six to eight weeks to recover from the procedure. During the recovery period, regular checkups will be necessary to monitor the healing process.
By choosing to become a living donor, you’re giving another person a second chance at life, and that’s the ultimate gift. To learn more about kidney donation, visit our Facts & FAQs page.