Become a Kidney Donor

Am I eligible to become a kidney donor?

You need to undergo a comprehensive evaluation if you decide to donate one of your kidneys to a family member such as your spouse, children, siblings, and parents or to a friend or altruistically to a stranger. You are NOT eligible to become a kidney donor if the doctor’s assessment suggests that kidney donation is not safe for you. For more information on how to become a living kidney donor through UCLA Health, please visit https://www.uclakidneydonor.org/. 

What are the steps for kidney donor evaluation process?

  1. The first step is the Initial Interview and establishing compatibility. Potential donors should fill out the online questionnaire.
  2. The second step is the assessment about your overall health status. A comprehensive medical history and physical examination is performed. It is very important that you declare all health related history such as having high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, kidney stones, stroke, heart and lung diseases and surgical interventions.  You need to report your family history especially family history of kidney diseases. A psychosocial assessment will be performed as well. History of smoking, drugs and alcohol needs to be discussed.
  3. After the complete medical, social, and psychosocial clearance is complete, the donor will meet with the surgeon, and the surgical procedure has been determined, the surgery date for the donor and recipient can be scheduled, at their convenience.

What tests do I need during the evaluation process?

During your evaluation, the transplant team will check your urine test and blood test to assess your kidney function, blood chemistries, blood cell counts, liver function and exposures to infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis. An electrocardiogram (ECG) needs to be performed to assess the heart. Chest X-ray and abdominal CT scan are the required imaging studies. Other tests such as heart exercise test and cancer screening might be required.  

How do I know if my kidney is a match for the recipient?

The transplant team will check your blood type as well as the recipient blood type, along with performing a cross match to see if you are compatible, or "match" your recipient. 

In the case that you and your recipient are not compatible, you may participate in UCLA's Kidney Exchange Program. This program allows the recipient and donor to enter a paired exchange registry, where the donor will donate to another recipient that is matched, and the recipient will receive a matched kidney from a compatible donor in return.

Learn more about the Kidney Exchange Program Here.

Does kidney donation shorten my lifespan?

The answer is NO. Kidney donation is generally safe however it is not risk free. There are some risks associated with any major surgery including surgery for the kidney donation.

Studies have shown that kidney donors have a lifespan similar to general population.

How often do I need to see my doctor?

Usually once a year is enough.

Can I exercise after donating a kidney?

Yes you can, but patients are usually instructed to avoid heavy contact sports to minimize the chances of having an injury to the only kidney you have.

Is there any specific diet that I need to follow?

No, most people do not follow a special diet. They may be intructed to decrease their protein intake. Any dietary changes should be talked about with a physician before being implemented. 


Kidney Transplant: Living Kidney Donation

Disclaimer: The UCLA Health System cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information. The information is provided without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Please speak to your Physician before making any changes.