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How to Become a Living Kidney Donor

When you choose to donate a kidney, you give time and quality of life to a family member, friend or even a stranger. Living donor kidney transplants allow recipients to enjoy a fuller, longer life that may not have been possible otherwise.

The living kidney donor experts at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center perform more living kidney donor surgeries than any other program in the Midwest region. Our specialists offer personalized support and unmatched expertise to donors who consider this selfless act.

Kidney Donation at Barnes-Jewish: Why Choose Us?

Our comprehensive living donor program provides the highest level of care to living kidney donors. We offer:

  • Expertise: Doctors at the Transplant Center helped pioneer living kidney donor transplants, giving them a depth of experience that leads to more successful short- and long-term results.
  • Convenience: Our dedicated living-kidney coordinators’ job is to help living donors navigate the entire evaluation process. Their personalized care makes the process as convenient, friendly and efficient as possible. We also accommodate out-of-the-area donors, allowing them to perform most of their eligibility testing at a location convenient for them.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: Our team offers two minimally invasive procedures for kidney donation surgery. We often let patients choose, if they prefer one procedure over the other.
  • Enhanced recovery protocols: Our research-backed recovery process allows donors to experience less pain after surgery and be more comfortable as they return home.

Living Kidney Donation: What You Need to Know

A living donor’s kidney often saves the life of someone at the end stages of kidney failure. Donating a kidney is a powerful experience, and many donors say it has changed them in unexpected but profound ways. Here are more details to note:

  • The need for kidney donors: The number of people waiting for a kidney transplant is significantly higher than the number of deceased kidneys available every year. In the U.S. there are less than 16,000 kidneys available annually from deceased donors and around 95,000 people who need a kidney transplant. For some people with kidney failure, the average waiting time for a deceased donor kidney (three to four years) is longer than their life expectancy on dialysis.
  • The kidney donation process: When a potential donor expresses interest in kidney donation, we connect them with one of our living-donor coordinators. Our dedicated coordinators are experts in living donation, and they help donors navigate the entire process. Learn more about kidney donor evaluation and living kidney donor surgery.

Benefits of Living Kidney Donation

Living donor transplants tend to happen sooner and with better results than deceased donor transplants, with minimal risks and drawbacks to the kidney donor. Living donor kidney benefits include:

  • Higher transplant success rates: Living donor transplants result in shorter hospital stays and fewer complications compared with transplants from deceased donors.
  • Shorter transplant process: Most people wait at least 3 years for a deceased kidney to become available. Patients who receive a living donor kidney can bypass the waiting list, shortening the transplant process considerably. The Transplant Center team pursues a variety of paths to donation, and we are one of the few centers to see a recent increase in living donor kidney transplants. Learn more about kidney donor matching.
  • Better organ function: Living donor kidneys last almost twice as long as kidney transplants from a deceased donor. On average, a kidney from a living donor will function for about 10 years longer than an organ from a deceased donor.
  • Very low risk to kidney donor: Every surgery has risks, but we minimize that risk with our comprehensive evaluation process and extensive experience performing kidney donor surgery.
  • Minimal life disruption for donor: We offer minimally invasive surgical techniques and improved recovery protocols. These advances mean less pain and faster recovery for kidney donors. Most donors spend two days in the hospital after surgery and report feeling back to normal a few weeks later.
  • The opportunity to choose a transplant date that works for you rather than waiting for a call that may come in the middle of the night. 

Contact Us

For more information about the living donor kidney program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 855.925.0631.