1. Who is eligible to donate a kidney?
In order to be a living donor, there are a couple qualifications. First, the donor should generally be older than 18 years of age. Second, it is very important the donor overall good physical and mental health. There are some donor health conditions which could cause harm to the recipient of the transplant, so it is important to share all health information.
2. Will I know the recipient who I am donating to?
The short answer is maybe. There are three different types of donor-recipient matches. The first is direct donation which is when the donor chooses the specific person who will receive the transplant. This is most commonly done between a biological relative, or someone who is friends with the transplant recipient. Often times however it is possible the donor and desired transplant recipient are not a good match medically. In this case, paired donation could be a good option for someone still wanting to be a live donor. Paired donation is when two potential donors who are pursuing direct donations are unable to donate directly because they are incompatible with their preferred transplant recipients. However, they are compatible with each other’s recipients so each donor donates to each other’s preferred recipient (see below).
The third type of donor-recipient matching is non-direct donation. In this type of donation, the donor does not know the recipient of the donation. The match is found based on medical compatibility after the initial screening takes place by the donor. Sometimes non-direct donors never meet the recipient and other times they do if they both agree and if the transplant center policy permits it.
3. How do I sign up to donate?
The first step is to contact a local transplant center. If you are planning to direct donate to someone, contact the transplant center where they are listed. If you are not planning to direct donate, contact a contract center in your area. You can find a transplant center in your area on the US Department of Health and Human Services website. Every transplant center has an initial screening process which includes a drug test to see if you are compatible with the intended transplant recipient or to match you with a recipient if you are looking for a non-direct donation.
Want to learn more about living organ donation? Check out these blog posts:
-Davis Hoover, Alexander’s Hope Intern