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Transplant Program

Living Kidney Donor Program

Donating a kidney is a generous and life-saving act. There are many things to consider when making this decision. Our goal is to help donors and recipients fully understand their choice to make a live kidney donation.

Living kidney donor and recipient illustration

Benefits of Living Kidney Donation

The benefits of living-donor kidney transplant include:

  • Significantly better long-term survival than kidneys from a deceased donor. 
  • Decreased wait time — a person could spend 5 years or more on the waiting list for a deceased donor while a living donor transplant can be done within a matter of months.

  • Kidneys generally begin functioning immediately.

  • Improved kidney function — kidneys from live donors last, on average, nearly twice as long as kidneys from deceased donors. On average, half the risk for failure is in the first year, compared to a deceased donor transplant. In addition, the surgery is planned.

How Does Paired Kidney Exchange Work?

Temple's Kidney Transplant Program participates in the paired kidney exchange program.

A paired kidney exchange occurs when a living kidney donor is incompatible with a recipient and exchanges kidneys with another donor/recipient pair. A paired kidney donation exchange enables two incompatible recipients to receive healthy, more compatible kidneys.

All medically eligible donor/recipient pairs may participate in the paired kidney exchange program.

A diagram that illustrates how a paired kidney exchange works.

How to Become a Living Kidney Donor

Temple offers a comprehensive living donor program. All potential kidney donors:

  • Undergo an extensive medical and psychosocial evaluation to ensure that they are healthy enough to donate.
  • Should contact the transplant center by calling 215-707-8889 and asking to speak with a living donor nurse coordinator.
  • Will be asked a series of basic questions about your health and will be scheduled for basic blood work to determine compatibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about living kidney donation.

Who can be a living kidney donor?

Anyone who is 18 years of age or older in overall good health.

Does the living kidney donor have to be a blood relative of the recipient?

No. Related and unrelated individuals can be living kidney donors.

What precautions are taken to protect the health and safety of the donor?

All potential living kidney donors undergo a thorough medical and psychological evaluation to ensure that living donation is safe.

How much pain will a donor have after living kidney donation surgery?

Everyone experiences pain differently, but pain is minimized by using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical techniques to remove the kidney.

What is the recovery time for living kidney donation?

Most living kidney donors spend 1 night and 2 days in the hospital following living donor surgery. Most go home the next day. Depending on what they do, most can return to work within 4 to 6 weeks.

There are no diet or lifestyle restrictions after recovery from living kidney donation.

Do living kidney donors get paid for donating a kidney?

No. It is a federal crime in the United States to be paid for donating an organ.

What if a donor lives far from a recipient?

The donor can get the initial blood work done locally and have the results sent to the Temple Living Donor Program. There are also programs available to help with travel-related costs for living kidney donors who qualify.

What if the recipient needs a pancreas and a kidney transplant?

Living donor kidney transplant and pancreas transplant from a deceased donor can take place simultaneously or as separate operations, depending on organ availability.

Who pays for living kidney donation?

The recipient’s health insurance and Medicare combine to cover the costs of a donor’s evaluation, hospital and surgery. Our program requires that living donors have their own health insurance as well.

We can provide guidance regarding insurance to potential donors without health insurance.

What is the follow-up for living kidney donors?

A donor follows up with the transplant program 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after a living kidney donation, and at least annually with a primary care doctor for routine blood pressure checks and kidney function tests.

What if a potential living kidney donor doesn’t know anyone who needs a kidney?

Donors have the option of non-directed donation (sometimes referred to as altruistic donation). This means that our program identifies a recipient on our waiting list that is the best match for your kidney.

For More Information

Contact the transplant center by calling 215-707-8889 and asking to speak with a living donor nurse coordinator.