How to Donate a Kidney
At Memorial Transplant Institute, we are grateful to every person who selflessly considers donating a kidney. Our dedicated transplant team provides potential donors with personalized, expert guidance and support. Learn what to expect from the kidney donation process, which includes comprehensive education on kidney donation and a thorough living donor evaluation.
Living Kidney Donation Process: First Steps
Memorial Transplant Institute's living kidney donor team includes experienced nurses, called "living donor coordinators," whose sole purpose is to guide potential donors through the donation process.
During your first meeting with the living donor coordinator, you will undergo a medical screening process. If you meet the criteria for the living kidney donor evaluation, you will receive materials describing the donation process. The coordinator can answer any questions you might have, both during this first meeting and at any time after. You will then be asked to complete a blood compatibility test.
We know donating a kidney is a big decision, so we will never rush you. Once you have reviewed all the material and you are matched to an intended recipient, we will schedule the living kidney donor evaluation at your request.
Living Kidney Donor Evaluation
If you decide you'd like to move forward with donating a kidney, we begin the donor evaluation process to ensure you're a good fit. We assess all aspects of your health, as well as make sure you're ready for the psychological impact that donating an organ can have.
Donor evaluation testing includes:
A cross-matching blood test helps our transplant team determine how the recipient will react to your organ. Other blood tests determine if you have transmissible diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis or cancer. Some positive test results may need to be reported to local, state or federal health authorities for public health reasons.
We perform a range of tests to help ensure you are healthy enough for surgery. These tests also alert doctors to any conditions you might have that could be affected by having only one kidney. These tests may include:
- 24-hour urine collection
- Chest X-ray and electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Advanced imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans
- Colonoscopy, prostate exam, mammogram or other age-related screenings
- Gynecological examination
Transplant centers are required to provide an independent living donor advocate. This person is not a member of the intended recipient's medical team and will assist you during the donation process. An advocate:
- Promotes the best interests of the potential living donor
- Helps provide the potential donor with the necessary information about the process, including medical and psychosocial risks and the importance of post-donation follow-up
During the evaluation process, you'll also meet with a living donor social worker. This person will:
- Assess your mental health to make sure you understand all the information provided to you and that you can make an informed decision
- Make sure you have a support network available to you as you embark on this potentially emotional process
- Help you plan who will take care of you after kidney donation surgery
- Point you toward resources that may help defray travel costs related to living kidney donation
Living Kidney Donation Process: What Comes Next
After your donor evaluation process is complete, your case will be presented to a selection committee comprised of transplant specialists. This team will determine if you are approved for kidney donation. If you are approved, our attentive living donor team will continue to be by your side throughout the entire donation process, including follow-up care after surgery.
We'll advocate for you, guide you, answer questions — and remind you that you can choose to opt out of the donation process at any time, including the day of surgery.
Life After Donating a Kidney
Living donors need to pay extra attention to their health to avoid complications such as hypertension or diabetes. Our care team follows donors closely for the first two years after donation.
Learn more about living kidney donation surgery or read our experts' take on common questions people ask about donating a kidney: FAQs.
We're always just a phone call away. To make an appointment or learn more about our robust living kidney donor program, call 954-265-7450.