The best option for a patient waiting for a kidney transplant is to receive one from a living donor. You can make a difference by donating a kidney to your loved one or friend or even a stranger facing kidney failure.
The number of people waiting for a kidney transplant far exceeds the number of donors.
At any given time, over 100,000 patients in the United States are awaiting a kidney transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing - many people whose lives can be changed by a living donor.
Education is the most important component in the decision to become a living donor. If you are considering becoming a living donor, please complete the Become a Living Donor Form, or you can speak with a living donor coordinator by calling (309) 624-5433.
Benefits & Risks of Living Donation
Transplants performed from living donors may have several advantages compared to transplants performed from deceased donors:
- Some living donor transplants are done between genetically similar family members. A better genetic match may lessen the risk of rejection.
- Preservation time and transportation are not factors. Donor and recipient operating rooms are next to each other, so the living donor kidney can be transplanted and functioning quickly. Some deceased donor kidneys do not work immediately. As a result, the patient may require dialysis for a short time until the kidney starts to function.
- Potential donors can be tested ahead of time to find the most compatible donor with the recipient. The transplant can take place at a time convenient for both the donor and recipient.
- Receiving a kidney from a living donor keeps recipients from long waiting time for a deceased donor kidney.
- Living donor kidneys tend to last significantly longer than deceased donor kidneys.
The overall risks for a living kidney donor are considered to be low and about the same as the general population who have not donated a kidney.
Living donation does not change life expectancy for the donor, who can continue to lead a normal life after recovery from the surgery. Studies have shown that one kidney is enough to remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood to keep the body healthy.
People with one kidney may be at a greater risk of high blood pressure or reduced kidney function. After donation, it is vital that the donor’s health is monitored regularly.
The transplant center is required to report information about the donor’s health to the United Network for Organ Sharing at six months, 12 months, and 24 months post-donation. You will be required to commit to follow-up care with either the transplant center nephrologist or your primary physician.
In the unlikely event that a living donor ever needs a kidney later in life, they are given higher priority on the deceased donor list based on the current allocation system.
It is important to realize that although living donor kidney transplants are highly successful, problems may occur. Sometimes, the kidney is rejected or the original disease that caused kidney failure may return and cause the transplanted kidney to fail.
The transplant surgeon and nephrologist will discuss risks in further detail during your evaluation appointment.
Paired Kidney Exchange Program
The goal of a paired kidney exchange is to make optimal use of willing live donors. Paired kidney exchanges help get potential recipients off the transplant waiting list and back to leading productive lives more quickly.
See the impact of paired kidney donation.
In a paired kidney exchange, would-be recipients with willing, yet incompatible donors are matched up with other recipient-donor pairs in the same situation.
While medically suitable to donate, each donor may have an incompatible blood type or incompatible antigens with their intended recipient.
By agreeing to exchange recipients - giving the kidney to an unknown, but compatible individual - the donors can provide two patients with healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible.
Our transplant program participates in the following paired exchange programs:
Participating in paired exchange programs increases the opportunity to find compatible matches for our patients.