Living Kidney Donation

Improving another person's quality of life for years to come

Thank you for your interest in living kidney donation.

The decision to become a living kidney donor to a loved one or to a stranger can be life enhancing for the recipient as well as the donor.

At IU Health, our team is dedicated to supporting living donors throughout their journey.

To be considered for living kidney donation, the first step is to complete and submit the required evaluation form below. In this confidential online form, you will provide detailed personal and family medical history.

A living donor coordinator will contact you within five business days to review your information, answer any questions and explain the evaluation process. All communication between the transplant center and a potential donor is confidential.

    How to Become a Living Kidney Donor at IU Health

    To be considered for living kidney donation, the first step is to complete and submit the required evaluation form below. In this confidential online form, you will provide detailed personal and family medical history.

    A living donor coordinator will contact you within five business days to review your information, answer any questions and explain the evaluation process. All communication between the transplant center and a potential donor is confidential.

      Watch: What to Expect with Living Kidney Donation

      Please download and review our booklet to learn more about living kidney donation, including the evaluation process, potential risks of living donation and your rights as a living donor:

      Our primary concern is your health, safety and well-being before, during and after organ donation.

      Why Become a Living Donor?

      Living donors help save the lives of patients experiencing kidney failure. Living donors reduce or eliminate the need for patients with kidney failure to start dialysis or spend years waiting for a deceased donor transplant.

      A kidney from a living donor can function better and last longer because the donor is healthy. It also functions better because the kidney is transplanted into the recipient shortly after being removed from the donor. Because of these factors, patients receiving a kidney from a living donor often have better outcomes than patients receiving a kidney from a deceased donor. This advantage continues long term.

      Things to Keep in Mind

      Your decision to donate must be completely voluntary and free of pressure or guilt. You have the right to withdraw your participation as a donor at any time during the process.

      A living kidney donor does not have to be related to the recipient. Compatibility is based on blood type (ABO) and tissue/HLA typing. Age and size are also taken into consideration. If your blood type is not compatible with your intended kidney recipient, there may still be options for living donation. Paired donation, also known as a "donor swap," matches incompatible recipient/donor pairs with other incompatible pairs. IU Health is very active in multiple paired kidney exchanges.

      All information between a potential living donor and IU Health Transplant is confidential due to privacy laws. The transplant center is unable to share any donor information with a patient in need of a kidney transplant.

      If you are a living kidney donor and you later need to be listed for a kidney transplant, you will be prioritized on the national deceased donor kidney waitlist.

      What to Expect with Living Kidney Donation

      Watch: What to Expect with Living Kidney Donation

      Please download and review our booklet to learn more about living kidney donation, including the evaluation process, potential risks of living donation and your rights as a living donor:

      Our primary concern is your health, safety and well-being before, during and after organ donation.

      Why Become a Living Donor?

      Living donors help save the lives of patients experiencing kidney failure. Living donors reduce or eliminate the need for patients with kidney failure to start dialysis or spend years waiting for a deceased donor transplant.

      A kidney from a living donor can function better and last longer because the donor is healthy. It also functions better because the kidney is transplanted into the recipient shortly after being removed from the donor. Because of these factors, patients receiving a kidney from a living donor often have better outcomes than patients receiving a kidney from a deceased donor. This advantage continues long term.

      Things to Keep in Mind

      Your decision to donate must be completely voluntary and free of pressure or guilt. You have the right to withdraw your participation as a donor at any time during the process.

      A living kidney donor does not have to be related to the recipient. Compatibility is based on blood type (ABO) and tissue/HLA typing. Age and size are also taken into consideration. If your blood type is not compatible with your intended kidney recipient, there may still be options for living donation. Paired donation, also known as a "donor swap," matches incompatible recipient/donor pairs with other incompatible pairs. IU Health is very active in multiple paired kidney exchanges.

      All information between a potential living donor and IU Health Transplant is confidential due to privacy laws. The transplant center is unable to share any donor information with a patient in need of a kidney transplant.

      If you are a living kidney donor and you later need to be listed for a kidney transplant, you will be prioritized on the national deceased donor kidney waitlist.

      The purpose of kidney transplantation is to give a healthy kidney to a person who has end-stage kidney disease. A successful kidney transplant may prevent the need for dialysis and the complications associated with kidney failure.

      Donor safety is our priority, and our team works to ensure this and provide support to you throughout the donation process. You will interact with several team members to ensure all your needs are met. This includes a living donor advocate whose role is to protect and promote the rights and interests of each living donor. Your care team may include the following:

      • Surgeon
      • Transplant Nephrologist
      • Anesthesiologist
      • Psychiatrist or Psychologist
      • Living Donor Transplant Coordinator
      • Living Donor Advocate (LDA)
      • Transplant Social Worker
      • Registered Dietitian
      • Pharmacist
      • Financial Coordinator

      After initial screening, potential living donors undergo a careful and thorough evaluation process which includes multiple tests and consultations to determine if they are eligible for donation.

      If approved to donate, a surgery date is scheduled that works for the donor and recipient. The donors will return to the hospital less than a week before surgery for pre-admission testing and final consultations.

        Evaluation

        The purpose of kidney transplantation is to give a healthy kidney to a person who has end-stage kidney disease. A successful kidney transplant may prevent the need for dialysis and the complications associated with kidney failure.

        Donor safety is our priority, and our team works to ensure this and provide support to you throughout the donation process. You will interact with several team members to ensure all your needs are met. This includes a living donor advocate whose role is to protect and promote the rights and interests of each living donor. Your care team may include the following:

        • Surgeon
        • Transplant Nephrologist
        • Anesthesiologist
        • Psychiatrist or Psychologist
        • Living Donor Transplant Coordinator
        • Living Donor Advocate (LDA)
        • Transplant Social Worker
        • Registered Dietitian
        • Pharmacist
        • Financial Coordinator

        After initial screening, potential living donors undergo a careful and thorough evaluation process which includes multiple tests and consultations to determine if they are eligible for donation.

        If approved to donate, a surgery date is scheduled that works for the donor and recipient. The donors will return to the hospital less than a week before surgery for pre-admission testing and final consultations.

          The donor surgery will be conducted under general anesthesia. The surgeon will place three small holes in the donor’s abdomen for a camera and surgical instruments, and one incision will be made to remove the kidney. Once the kidney is removed, the abdomen will be closed.

          A small IV tube and a urinary tube (catheter) will be in place for 1-2 days after surgery, and most donors remain in the hospital for 2-3 days. The care team works closely with the donor to manage and minimize post-operative pain.

          Feeling more tired than usual for a few months after the surgery is common. Depending on any physical requirements of the job, most donors are able to return to work in 2-6 weeks. Donors must avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities for 8 weeks. For these reasons, support from family or friends is necessary for a successful recovery after living kidney donation.

          Living Kidney Donation Surgery & Recovery

          The donor surgery will be conducted under general anesthesia. The surgeon will place three small holes in the donor’s abdomen for a camera and surgical instruments, and one incision will be made to remove the kidney. Once the kidney is removed, the abdomen will be closed.

          A small IV tube and a urinary tube (catheter) will be in place for 1-2 days after surgery, and most donors remain in the hospital for 2-3 days. The care team works closely with the donor to manage and minimize post-operative pain.

          Feeling more tired than usual for a few months after the surgery is common. Depending on any physical requirements of the job, most donors are able to return to work in 2-6 weeks. Donors must avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities for 8 weeks. For these reasons, support from family or friends is necessary for a successful recovery after living kidney donation.

          Patient Testimonials

          Watch these two stories as living kidney donors and their recipients talk about their journeys.

          Friend Saves a Life
          A Brother's Love

          Questions About the Decision to Donate

          You have the right to withdraw your participation as a donor at any time during the process. Information about your medical evaluation, diagnostic test results, etc., will not be discussed with the potential transplant recipient. It is up to you what information you want to share with the recipient.

          A financial coordinator works with your recipient’s insurance so the donation process will be at no cost to you, the donor.

          Donors are responsible for costs such as travel, lodging and time off work. A living donor advocate and social worker will help you identify possible assistance resources and understand all financial risks for you to consider before donation.

          To determine if living donation is safe for you and if you are compatible with the recipient, imaging, tests and consultations will be ordered for you. Some of these may be done locally, but most are required to be performed at IU Health by members of the multidisciplinary transplant team.

          Depending on results, further testing may be required. All efforts will be made to schedule multiple appointments on the same day but will likely require more than one trip to IU Health.

          During recovery, a support system is very important for all living donors. Expected recovery time at home is 4-6 weeks but could be longer depending on the type of work you perform due to lifting restrictions.

          You should identify who will bring you home from the hospital and stay with you full-time for at least the first few days at home. For up to 8 weeks, you will need assistance with strenuous household duties and childcare due to lifting restrictions.

          Living Kidney Donation Resources