Go

Kidney Transplant

Eligibility/Testing for Kidney Donors

Donor Eligibility

A living donor is a volunteer who is physically healthy. Donors can be family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or fellow church members of the recipient— anyone who is willing to donate. Donors do not have to be the same race or sex as the recipient. Some additional questions people commonly have about their eligibility as a kidney donor: Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

Donor Testing

The purpose of the donor evaluation is to make sure that the donor’s health will not be harmed from donating and that the transplant has the greatest chance of success. The donor evaluation can take from one to 6 months to complete, depending on the health of the donor and how quickly the tests can be scheduled. To begin the donor evaluation, the transplant team compares the blood of the potential donor and recipient to make sure there is a match. Then several tests are done on an outpatient basis, at a time that works best for the donor:
  • Doctors check the donor’s blood pressure, heart rate, and lung function and take blood and urine samples.
  • Women have a pap smear and mammogram, while donors over 50 years of age need a colonoscopy.
  • Donors also talk to a social worker or counselor.
  • Closer to donation, donors have a CT scan to help the surgeons see the blood vessels of the kidney.

Common Questions About Donor Eligibility

I’m 70 years old. Am I too old to donate a kidney?

At Barnes-Jewish, we have performed numerous successful transplants with older donors. Like younger donors, you will have a thorough evaluation to make sure that your kidneys are healthy and that donating will not be harmful to you.

Can I be a donor if I smoke? What about if I use drugs or alcohol?

Smokers can be donors, but we ask that you stop smoking for your own safety, even if it means delaying the surgery. By giving up smoking, you decrease the risks of going under anesthesia and of complications after the operation. If you do not quit smoking, the surgeons and physicians will decide if it is safe for you to donate, based on how much you smoke and the condition of your lungs. Of course, you won’t be able to smoke for the time you are in the hospital.

Can I be a donor if I am overweight?

The medical team will evaluate your body mass index to determine your eligibility. They will also look specifically at the area where they plan to make the incision to see if your weight will make the surgery or recovery more complicated. If you are otherwise a suitable donor, transplant surgery can be delayed until you can lose weight.

For additional information or to begin a kidney transplant evaluation, call .

Ambrose Perkins

Ambrose Perkins was an active father and grandfather. He enjoyed his job as a bus driver, and he especially loved fishing, spending much of his free time with a rod and reel. When hypertension caused his kidneys to fail, Ambrose's doctors told him a transplant was his best bet for a normal life. Because none of his family members were donor candidates, he went on the waiting list for a donor organ. One day, as Ambrose told his boss about his condition, his friend and co-worker, Kim Monroe, overheard and offered to donate her kidney. Ambrose thought she was kidding. But Kim made an appointment to be evaluated as a donor and drove to Barnes-Jewish for an extensive work up. It turned out that Kim's kidney was a close match for Ambrose. On Nov. 15, 2005, Kim underwent a mini-nephrectomy - a minimally invasive donor procedure developed at Barnes-Jewish, and Ambrose received her healthy kidney. Both were out of the hospital within a week. Thanks to the skill of his doctors, the support of the transplant center team, and the generosity of his co-worker, Ambrose is reeling in fish once again.

 
Find a doctor or make an appointment:
General Information: (314) 747-3000
One Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63110
© Copyright 1997-2014, Barnes-Jewish Hospital. All Rights Reserved.