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.
During your evaluation, the transplant team will complete urine and blood tests 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.
The transplant team will check your blood type as well as the recipient blood type to see if they are compatible. A unique blood test also needs to be done which is called “crossmatch”.
It is possible that the recipient of the kidney has an “allergy” to the donated kidney so the recipient's body may reject the donated kidney. Such allergy is due to some substances called “antibodies” which are present in the recipient's blood. In order to make sure that the recipient does NOT have those antibodies against your kidney tissue, the “crossmatch” test is performed. Briefly, a sample of your blood is combined with a sample of the recipient's blood. If the recipient has antibodies to the donor, this will cause a "positive" reactivity during the crossmatch test. This may mean your recipient is incompatible to you. 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 recieve a matched kidney from a compatible donor in return.
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 kidney donation.
Studies have shown that kidney donors have a lifespan similar to the general population.
UCLA recommends that you see your doctor every year.
Yes you may exercise after donating your kidney, however there will be a brief period of exercise restrictions while you are recovering from kidney donation surgery.
UCLA recommends that you follow a healthy diet, balancing proteins, carbohydrates and fats. There are no dietary restrictions.
Blood testing will begin with only three donors, to determine compatibility with the recipient. If you have more than three people who are willing to donate, they may contact the donor department to discuss their options. Once compatibility tests have been completed the recipient and donors must discuss which donor he/she will proceed with. The donor coordinator can help families decide which donor may be best for them.
The donor will be assigned a nurse coordinator who will be responsible for educating them through the donation process. The coordinator will work only with the donor and cannot disclose any health information to their family or the recipient. It is very important for donors to keep the recipient informed of the process as it moves along.
The donation process depends on how many tests are required of the donor and how quickly he or she is able to complete them. The average donor work up may take six months or more for completion and may depend on test results, which may indicate additional evaluation is required. A transplant date cannot be set until the donor has completed the entire work up and has been evaluated by the surgeon. The transplant center does its best to accommodate the needs of the donor and recipient, but appointment times may be limited.
When compatibility testing shows that the donor is not a match to the recipient there are other options to consider so that the recipient might not have to wait for a deceased donor organ to become available.
For more information visit our website https://www.uclahealth.org/transplants/kidney
For additional living donor information refer to: http://www.transplantliving.org/