About Living Donation

How to Become a Living Donor

 A person must clearly express his interest to be a living donor.

  • Set up an appointment with the kidney transplant surgeon. Schedule a complete donor pre-transplant evaluation, which can be done as an outpatient.
  • Your insurance company has to approve a donor evaluation. If the insurance company does not give Children’s pre-certification or authorize these tests, you and your family may need to pay for the charges.
  • Only one person at a time will be accepted for a donor evaluation. If that person is not accepted, the process will begin again starting with the insurance company (see Step 2).
  • Exercise often. Activities such as walking, swimming or biking are strongly advised for donors. This will help the donor recover better after the kidney transplant surgery.
  • Follow a healthy diet and stop drinking alcohol or smoking. This allows your kidney to work better. You will also need to stop some medicines if you are taking them. Talk to your doctor and the Children’s Kidney Transplant team before you stop any medicine. Herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplements are medicines.

You may decide not to donate at any time. The Children’s Kidney Transplant team will keep your decision private.

Advantages of Living Donation

  • The kidney comes from a person known to be healthy
  • The patient has less time to wait for an available kidney
  • The kidney transplant can be done before your child becomes very ill—this can help lead to a quicker recovery
  • Pediatric kidney transplant surgery can be scheduled—it can be worked around vacations or time off to allow for greater convenience in your child and family’s life
  • Children's has a 100 percent survival rate for living donor kidney transplant recipients and donors since 1999

Who Can Be a Living Donor for a Kidney Transplant?

A living donor can be anyone—a parent, family member or friend. A donor has to meet certain health standards and have a donor evaluation. Based on these results, the kidney transplant surgeon and team will decide if a donor is a good match for your child. A donor must also:

  • Be older than 18 years of age or age of majority (the age when a person has all of the rights and responsibilities of being an adult). In most states, the age is 18.
  • Be in good health. Certain medical conditions can prevent a person from being a living donor. This is up to the kidney transplant surgeon to decide. Examples include:
    • Kidney disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes
    • Heart, lung or breathing problems
    • Cancer
    • Urinary tract problems
    • Contagious diseases (a disease able to be passed from one person to another) such as HIV, hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)
    • Obesity (very overweight)
    • Be willing to donate a kidney. The decision to donate must be made freely and without pressure from anyone.
    • Be admitted to the Emory Transplant Center for the evaluation and kidney transplant surgery.
    • Stay in the hospital for an average of seven to 10 days. The donor may not be able to work for up to two months.

    What are the Risks?

    As with any major surgery, there are risks involved. However, most risks are manageable. Some of the risks may include:

    • Pain
    • Bleeding
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Infection
    • Possible death