Types of Donors


While the demand for kidneys continues to climb, currently, all transplanted kidneys only come from three sources:

1. Deceased (or Cadaveric) Donor: This is a kidney which comes from a person who has just died and the family has given permission for the kidneys to be donated for transplant. Click here to learn more about deceased kidney donations.

2. Living Related Donor:  A kidney which comes from a blood relative such as a parent, brother or sister.

Points to remember about related living donation:

  • You have much more control over the timing of the transplant with a living donation. This may allow the transplant to occur before the recipient requires dialysis.  
  • Kidneys from close relatives (siblings, parents) tend to be better matches because of blood and antigen compatibility.  This means there is less chance for rejection of the kidney, and the number and/or dose of anti-rejection medications which need to be taken may be lower.
  • Waiting time is reduced.  After the medical evaluation for health and compatibility, a transplant can take place almost immediately – unless the donor has medical issues which need to be resolved.
  • Living related donors have a reduced need for temporary dialysis after the transplant than with a deceased kidney donation.
  • For those with genetic diseases, like PKD, other family members are often affected as well, making living related donation more difficult.


3. Living Unrelated Donor:  A donated kidney from someone not related to the person who needs a transplant such as a spouse or friend.

Points to remember about unrelated living donation:

  • You have much more control over the timing of the transplant with a living donation.
  • Waiting time is reduced.  After the medical evaluation for health and compatibility, a transplant can take place almost immediately – unless the donor has medical issues which need to be resolved.
  • The need for temporary dialysis is less than with that of a deceased donor transplant.
  • Since donor and recipient are not related, genetic factors usually are not problems.

Click here to learn more about living kidney donation.

Other useful information

  • Health insurance should pay for the donor’s testing and surgery.
  • Additional insurance is available for donors through The American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation.
  • Recovery time for the donor is approximately 6-8 weeks.  
  • If the donor was working prior to the surgery, they may be eligible for state disability payments while recovering.  
  • In certain cases, financial assistance for travel and lodging expenses may be obtained through application to the National Living Donor Assistance Program.
  • A large number of tests are required prior to a living donor making a donation. This is to ensure the donor is healthy and limit the complications for the donor and the kidney recipient. Click here to learn more about testing for a living kidney donor.
  • Donor testing is arranged by the transplant coordinator.


In general, donors must be:

  • Healthy
  • Free from disease, infection or injury that affects the kidney
  • Usually of the same or a compatible blood type (see table below)
  • Willing to give their kidney free from any mental, physical, or financial coercion


BLOOD TYPE COMPATIBILITY CHART

 

 

 

 

 

Statistics
Number of kidney transplants performed in the United States. Learn More

 

 

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