Living Donation

Living DonationThe renal transplant waiting list continues to grow larger than the number of kidneys available from deceased donors. This shortage, along with the many surgical advances, has increased the level of interest in living donations.  Volunteering to be a living donor is a generous act and is a major decision, and no one should feel pressured into becoming a living donor.  Our living donor advocate works directly with a potential donor and acts as the donor’s representative.  The donor advocate will ensure that any potential concerns are communicated and explored prior to undergoing evaluation.

How does someone qualify to be a living donor?

Candidates considering kidney donation should request a donor applications from the Transplant Center.  Once an application is received and approved, the potential donor will complete a series of blood tests to determine whether the candidate’s kidney is a good match.  If the results are good, the donor will undergo further testing and a psychological evaluation to ensure donation is a safe option.

Who pays for the living donors’ tests and surgery?

The donor is not responsible for the cost of tests and surgery.  The recipient’s insurance company will  pay for the workup process, surgery and post-surgery clinic visit.  Donors are responsible for their own transportation, lodging and any lost wages.  Medical City’s transplant financial coordinator and kidney transplant social worker are available to answer any questions related to expenses.

What tests determine whether a donor and recipient are compatible?

A series of blood tests are used in the matching process including ABO blood type testing and Human Leukocyte Antigen typing (HLA).  Our team analyzes the tests to confirm complementary blood types, similar body tissues and white blood cells.  HLA typing identifies whether the potential donor and recipient share similar antigens.  Antigens determine whether the body will accept or reject certain substances.  The more antigens a donor and recipient share, the less likely it is that the recipient’s body will reject the kidney.   A crossmatch test is also done where blood samples from both the recipient and donor are tested together.  If there is no reaction by the recipient’s blood, the crossmatch is NEGATIVE then it is safe to proceed.  If there is a reaction, the crossmatch is POSITIVE and then the recipient cannot accept a kidney from that donor.   The non compatible pair may at this time consider the paired donation program.

What is the next step after all of the required testing is completed?

Once the living donor selection committee has determined that it will be safe for you to donate, a surgery date will be scheduled.

What is a laparoscopic nephrectomy?

A laparoscopic nephrectomy is a less invasive surgical procedure used for living kidney donation.  During the operation three “small” incisions are made to insert the surgical instruments.  A fourth is used to insert a small camera called a laparoscope.  A fifth incision is made in the lower abdomen for the removal of the kidney.

What happens during the recovery time?

Recovery can be different for each patient.  The donor is usually hospitalized for two days and may experience muscle soreness, itching and difficulty stretching in the area around the incision.  Donors typically return to work in two to three weeks after surgery.  All heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for about four weeks as well.

How do I become a living donor?

The donor candidate may contact the Transplant Center at 972-566-7199 and ask to speak with the Living Donor Coordinator.