Who can be a living kidney donor?

To donate a kidney, you must be in good physical and mental health.  As a general rule, you should be 18 years or older.You must also have normal kidney function.  There are some medical conditions that could prevent you from being a living donor.  These include having uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or acute infections.  Having a serious mental health condition that requires treatment may also prevent you from being a donor.


How to get Tested?

The first step is to reach out to a living nurse coordinator at UMMC (410-328-5408).  Then it's a simple blood test to determine cellular eligibility.  The next phase is to determine physical eligibility -- are you physically capable of being a donor.  This phase consists of various diagnostic tests at a transplant center/hospital.


Long Term Risks?

The amount of research into the long-term risks of kidney donation is limited. However, most studies suggest that you can live a normal, healthy life with one kidney. In fact, when one kidney is removed, the single normal kidney will increase in capacity to compensate.   One possible long-term risk may be high blood pressure. Research shows that many people who donate a kidney have slightly higher blood pressure after several years.  There have been occasional reports of patients who developed kidney failure after donation, possibly due to heredity factors (family background). If kidney failure occurs, you will be given a higher priority for a kidney transplant on the waitlist for a deceased donor. The typical wait for a kidney donor in 2015 was 145 days versus 1607 days for other people.


What does the operation involve?

In general, you will be given a general anesthetic in the operating room. You will be asleep and will not feel any pain during the surgery. In most cases, you and your recipient will be in adjacent operating rooms. One of your kidneys will be carefully removed and transplanted in the recipient. Typically, the surgery takes 3–5 hours with time in the recovery room afterward for observation.


Recovery for a donor?

Most people are in the hospital three to seven days after surgery. However, everyone is different and the rate of recovery will vary greatly among individuals. Ask your transplant center for their best estimate of your recovery time.

After leaving the hospital, most people will feel tenderness, itching, and some pain as the incision heals. Most kidney donors can return to normal activities after 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the physical demands of their daily living and work tasks. Heavy lifting should be avoided for about six weeks following surgery. You may not be able to drive for up to two weeks.


What if I'm not a match but still want to be a Living Donor?

If you are not a match you can continue to pursue living donation by talking with the transplant team about Paired Kidney Exchange programs.


For more information, please visit kidney.org