Living donor kidney transplantation is an alternative to receiving a kidney from a deceased donor — and can provide recipients with greater benefits. Kidney transplants from living donors generally offer recipients much better long-term survival than those from a deceased donor.
Boston Medical Center has a well-established Living Donor Program, and our Transplant Team has performed more than 300 living donor kidney transplants.
To learn more about the Living Donation Program at Boston Medical Center, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Karen Curreri, Clinical Administrator for Transplant Surgery, 617-638-8368. Or take the first step by filling out the Living Kidney Donor Questionnaire.
At Boston Medical Center, all living donor candidates are encouraged to ask questions at any time. The Transplant Team provides education and support and works collaboratively to create a relationship that ensures donors feel comfortable. All donor candidates go through a thorough medical and psychosocial evaluation to help determine if living donation is safe and right for them. The healthcare provider team that performs this evaluation is separate from the intended recipient's care provider team, and all information is held in the strictest of confidence. A donor’s personal and medical information will not be shared with the potential recipient at any time. The intended recipient’s insurance covers the cost of the donor evaluation.
Thinking about becoming a living kidney donor?
Living donors can be family members, friends, or anonymous. They must be at least 18 years old. At Boston Medical Center, we encourage all living donor candidates to ask questions at any time. The Transplant Team provides education and support to potential living donors, creating relationships that help donors feel comfortable.
If you are interested in becoming a living donor, you will first go through a complete medical and psychosocial evaluation to help decide if living donation is safe and right for you. The care team that performs this evaluation is separate from the care team for the intended recipient, and all information is kept private. Your personal and medical information will not be shared with the potential recipient at any time. The intended recipient’s insurance covers the cost of your donor evaluation.
If you are not a compatible match with your recipient, you may still have the option to give through our paired exchange or kidney swap program. Through these programs, you may be able to save two or more lives.
Why become a living kidney donor?
A living donor transplant has many benefits over a deceased donor kidney transplant.
These benefits include:
- A kidney from a living donor has a much higher success rate.
- A kidney from a living donor generally starts to work right after transplant. A deceased donor kidney might take several days or weeks to function normally.
- A kidney from a living donor lasts longer and can lengthen a recipient’s life span compared to those who receive a kidney transplant from a deceased donor.
- The living donor transplant can be scheduled. This allows the recipient and donor to plan for surgery. Recipients will not know when a deceased donor kidney will be available, and surgery must be performed very soon after it is available.
- There may be a reduced risk of rejection, especially if the kidney is donated by a blood relative.
- A living donor transplant usually shortens the amount of time a recipient waits to receive a kidney transplant—and get off dialysis sooner. Recipients on the transplant waitlist can wait up to 8 years or more for a deceased donor kidney transplant.
- People with kidney failure who have a kidney transplant live longer and have a better quality of life than people who stay on dialysis.
- Because the recipient of a live donor kidney is removed from the national transplant waiting list, the next patient on the list moves up the list; therefore, the donor is directly and indirectly giving the gift of life to more than one person.
- Many donors feel a great emotional benefit in giving the gift of transplant to a loved one or friend. Transplants can improve the recipient’s quality of life, allowing them to return to normal activities.
Who can be a living donor?
A donor can be a family member, distant relative, friend, or co-worker. You do not have to be a “blood relative” of the recipient. You can also donate a kidney to someone in need who you don’t know. This is called an “altruistic” or “good Samaritan” donation. Here are some basic guidelines for living donors:
- You must be age 18 to 65
- You must be healthy and not have any chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or other serious medical conditions.
- You must be willing to donate of your own free will without outside pressure.
- You must understand the risks and possible complications of kidney donation
- You must be in a stable life situation and have family or social support (separate from the recipient’s support) to help you during recovery.
How are living donors evaluated?
All potential living kidney donors go through a very thorough evaluation process before they are accepted as a donor. This includes interviews and examinations with several specialists.
What are common concerns of living donors?
Potential living donors often have many questions and concerns. Here are some of the most common:
Health issues: Having one kidney does not affect life expectancy. Donors can have children, work, run, and exercise. There are no restrictions on what you can do, but we encourage donors to commit to living a healthy lifestyle for the rest of their lives.
Effect on relationship with recipient: When the transplant is successful, this tends to have a positive impact on your relationship with the recipient. If there are complications or the transplant fails, this could have a negative impact on your relationship. And if you decide not to donate or are not eligible to donate for any reason, this could affect your relationship. We encourage all living donors to talk with their recipient directly about their decision and feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can always talk with the living-donor advocate or social worker. Our team will never discuss any information about donors with recipients or the recipient’s family.
Scars: Boston Medical Center offers a surgical technique called “laparoscopic nephrectomy with hand assist.” This surgery uses small incisions and results in less scarring and a shorter recovery time. Some donors consider this small scar their “badge of honor” for being a live donor.
Family planning: Many female donors have gone on to have normal pregnancies after kidney donation. We do advise waiting at least one year after donation, so your body has plenty of time to recuperate. If you do become pregnant, make sure your obstetrician or gynecologist knows you donated a kidney.
Time off: Your recovery time will depend on how well your body reacts to the surgery. We usually advise planning 4 to 6 weeks recovery before returning to your job. Transplant surgery can be scheduled at your convenience, making it easier to plan.
For more information about living donation, download BMC’s helpful guide, The Gift of Life. It provides more in-depth information about becoming a living donor.
The Gift of Life guide provides helpful information for individuals who are considering living donation.
Interest in becoming a donor? Take the first step by filling out the Living Kidney Donor Questionnaire.
For more information, please contact us:
Transplant Donor Surgeon
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Living Donor Evaluation Process
Living Donor Forms and Donor Advocate Information
FAQs for Living Kidney Donors
August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month, a time dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation and bridging the gaps between donations and need in minority populations.
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