Living Organ Donation

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

Thank you for your interest in living organ donation.

The decision to become a living kidney or living liver 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.

Please download and review our booklets to learn more about living organ donation and what to expect 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 or liver 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.

Patients in liver failure have no other option but to wait on the list for deceased donor organs. There are currently 14,000 patients on the liver wait list. Of those patients, 20% will die while they wait on the 8,000 livers donated from deceased donors each year.

An organ from a living donor can function better and last longer because the donor is healthy. It also functions better because the organ is transplanted into the recipient shortly after being removed from the donor. Because of these factors, patients receiving an organ from a living donor often have better outcomes than patients receiving an organ 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 donor does not have to be related to the recipient. Compatibility is based on blood type (ABO) and for kidneys, 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. However, paired donation for liver transplant is rare in the United States.
  • 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 or liver transplant.

What to Expect with Living Organ Donation

Please download and review our booklets to learn more about living organ donation and what to expect 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 or liver 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.

Patients in liver failure have no other option but to wait on the list for deceased donor organs. There are currently 14,000 patients on the liver wait list. Of those patients, 20% will die while they wait on the 8,000 livers donated from deceased donors each year.

An organ from a living donor can function better and last longer because the donor is healthy. It also functions better because the organ is transplanted into the recipient shortly after being removed from the donor. Because of these factors, patients receiving an organ from a living donor often have better outcomes than patients receiving an organ 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 donor does not have to be related to the recipient. Compatibility is based on blood type (ABO) and for kidneys, 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. However, paired donation for liver transplant is rare in the United States.
  • 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 or liver transplant.

To be considered for living kidney or liver donation, the first step is to complete and submit the required evaluation forms below. In these confidential online forms, 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.

Contact

To learn more about the living donation program:

How to Become a Living Donor at IU Health

To be considered for living kidney or liver donation, the first step is to complete and submit the required evaluation forms below. In these confidential online forms, 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.

Contact

To learn more about the living donation program:

Watch: What to Expect with Living Kidney Donation

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

After initial screening, living donor candidates undergo a careful and thorough evaluation process which includes multiple tests and consultations to determine if they are eligible for donation. If approved for donation, a surgery date is scheduled.

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.

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 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.

What to Expect with Living Kidney Donation

Watch: What to Expect with Living Kidney Donation

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

After initial screening, living donor candidates undergo a careful and thorough evaluation process which includes multiple tests and consultations to determine if they are eligible for donation. If approved for donation, a surgery date is scheduled.

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.

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 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.

When someone has late-stage liver disease, liver failure and death are real possibilities when medical treatment is no longer effective. Liver Transplantation is the patient’s only option.

Living liver transplantation involves removing a portion of a donor’s liver and using it to replace a diseased liver in the recipient. While a living liver donor faces the typical risks of surgery, the liver can regenerate and return to full function within a month.

After initial screening, living donor candidates undergo a careful and thorough evaluation process of testing and consultations to determine if they are eligible for donation. If approved for donation, a surgery date is scheduled.

Surgery & Recovery

After the donation surgery, liver donors are monitored in the Transplant Intensive Care Unit for 1-2 days and then moved to the Organ Transplant Unit. The care team works closely with the donor to minimize post-operative pain. Donors will remain in the hospital as long as necessary but are usually discharged within one week after surgery.

Follow-up appointments are scheduled for about two weeks and one month after donation. Donors may be able to return to work with some lifting restrictions after four to six weeks.

What to Expect with Living Liver Donation

When someone has late-stage liver disease, liver failure and death are real possibilities when medical treatment is no longer effective. Liver Transplantation is the patient’s only option.

Living liver transplantation involves removing a portion of a donor’s liver and using it to replace a diseased liver in the recipient. While a living liver donor faces the typical risks of surgery, the liver can regenerate and return to full function within a month.

After initial screening, living donor candidates undergo a careful and thorough evaluation process of testing and consultations to determine if they are eligible for donation. If approved for donation, a surgery date is scheduled.

Surgery & Recovery

After the donation surgery, liver donors are monitored in the Transplant Intensive Care Unit for 1-2 days and then moved to the Organ Transplant Unit. The care team works closely with the donor to minimize post-operative pain. Donors will remain in the hospital as long as necessary but are usually discharged within one week after surgery.

Follow-up appointments are scheduled for about two weeks and one month after donation. Donors may be able to return to work with some lifting restrictions after four to six weeks.

Patient Testimonials

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

Friend Saves a Life
A Brother's Love

Living Kidney Donation Resources

Living Liver Donation Resources