Can You Be a Living Donor?

Why be a living organ donor

Perhaps the simplest—and most profound—reason to be a living kidney or liver donor is that you can save the life of someone with kidney or liver failure. There are numerous other benefits of living organ donation, including:

  • There are better short- and long-term survival rates for transplants from living donors vs. transplants from deceased donors
  • Kidney recipients can be transplanted before they have to begin dialysis, which also improves their long-term outcomes
  • Your recipient doesn’t have to go on the national waiting list, which helps to shorten the waiting time for others on the list
  • Your recipient has time to plan for the transplant, and avoids the unhealthy stress of waiting for a deceased donor
  • The transplant surgery can be scheduled at a convenient, mutually agreed-upon time rather than performed on an emergency basis

Who can be a living organ donor

You may qualify to be a living organ donor if you:

  • Are in good general health and free of certain diseases
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 60 (for kidney donation) and 18 and 55 (for liver donation); kidney donors older than 60 will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • Are not pregnant, or intending to get pregnant, for at least a year after surgery
  • Are a match with your recipient (gender and race are not factors in determining a successful match)
  • For liver donors, have a liver that’s the right size for the recipient
  • For liver donors, have a relationship with your recipient
  • Have health insurance (if you don’t have health insurance, we can provide guidance on how to obtain it)

Learn more about being a living kidney or living liver donor.

What’s involved in being a living organ donor

There are several steps involved in being a living organ donor, starting with testing to determine if you are a match for your intended recipient. If you are a match, more comprehensive testing and evaluation, the surgery itself and recovery follow.

To learn more about what’s involved in the organ donation process, we encourage you to read our comprehensive handbook about being a living kidney or living liver donor.

Some important points to remember

As you consider being a living organ donor, here are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • Most medical costs associated with living organ donation are covered by your recipient’s health insurance
  • To ensure that you are fully informed about being a living kidney or liver donor, you will be provided with an independent living-donor advocate. This advocate—a social worker or counselor—represents you, not UMass Memorial, and is available to help you talk about your feelings and concerns, answer any questions you may have, and assist in protecting your best interests throughout the donation process.
  • You may change your mind at any time during the donation process; your medical information and decision will be kept confidential