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Living Kidney Donor Transplant

Living kidney donor transplant (when a transplant recipient receives a kidney from a living donor) offers many benefits compared to deceased kidney transplants. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, we pursue multiple innovative approaches to match our patients with a suitable living kidney donor.

Living Kidney Donor Transplant: What You Need to Know

At the Transplant Center, 25% to 30% of the kidney transplants we perform are from living donors.

  • What is a living kidney donor transplant? These transplants occur when a patient receives a kidney from a live person, called a living kidney donor. This kidney donor could be a friend, a family member or even a stranger. Learn more about how to become a kidney donor.
  • What are the benefits of living kidney donor transplant? Living donor transplant offers multiple benefits, including:
    • Shorter transplant process: Most people wait at least three years for a deceased kidney to become available. In some cases, it can even be as long as seven years. Patients who receive a living donor kidney can bypass the waiting list, shortening the transplant process considerably.
    • Better organ function: Compared with deceased donor transplants (where the kidney comes from a person who has died), living kidney donor transplants work better and last longer – almost twice as long on average. In general, patients can expect a deceased donor’s kidney to last 10 to 12 years. That outlook improves to 17 to 20 years for a living donor kidney.
    • Easier recovery: On average, living donor transplants result in shorter hospital stays with fewer complications.
    • A planned transplant date: Living donors are able to choose the date for the transplant surgery so that you can plan for your transplant surgery. Deceased donor transplant are unpredictable and can occur on the middle of the night.
  • What are the options for living donor kidney transplant? We offer many living kidney donor transplant options. If a recipient comes to us with a living donor who is a suitable match, that recipient can often have transplant surgery in as quickly as twelve weeks. If you have a preferred donor who is not a match for you, we can still help through these innovative methods:
    • Paired-donor kidney transplant: Kidney exchange programs can pair living kidney donors with patients in the St. Louis regions through our internal exchange program and from all across the country through our national exchange programs. These programs increase your chances (and potentially decrease your wait) for a transplant. Learn more about paired-donor kidney transplant.
    • Incompatible-donor kidney transplant: We’ve developed specific protocols that allow us to transplant a donated kidney into a patient who is not an ideal match for the donor’s blood or tissue type – with the same successful outcomes as other transplant methods. Read more about incompatible-donor kidney transplant.

Our Comprehensive Approach to Kidney Donation

Our comprehensive living kidney 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 better short- and long-term results.
  • Support: Our living-kidney coordinators’ job is to help living donors navigate the entire evaluation process. We accommodate out-of-the-area donors, allowing them to perform most of their eligibility testing at a location convenient for them.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: Living kidney donation is much easier on the donor than it once was, with less pain and a faster recovery. Our team offers two minimally invasive procedures for kidney donation surgery. We often let patients choose, if they prefer one procedure over the other. Learn more about kidney donation surgery.
  • Enhanced recovery protocols: Our research-backed recovery process results in less pain after surgery and increased comfort as donors return home.
  • Very low risk to kidney donor: Every surgery has risks, but we minimize that risk with our comprehensive evaluation process and extensive surgical experience.

Contact Us

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