About Organ Donation

Living Organ Donation

What Is a Living Donor?

Because the number of organs donated by deceased donors is not enough to meet the needs of patients awaiting organ transplants, people sometimes offer to donate an organ or part of an organ to a loved one or friend. This is what is known as being a living donor.

Living organ donation is possible because certain organs are able to either regenerate themselves, or continue to function well when a section is removed. Transplant teams throughout the country have developed new techniques and procedures to save more patients' lives through living donor transplants.

Living donations are handled by each individual transplant center where the recipient is waiting.

It is currently possible for a living person to donate:

  • a kidney
  • a portion of the liver
  • a lobe of a lung
  • a portion of the intestine
  • in some rare instances, a portion of their pancreas

Currently, living organ donors account for almost half (45%) of all organ donation in the United States.

How Do I Become a Living Donor?

Any healthy adult can become a living donor, regardless of race or gender. This means they must be relatively physically fit and free from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The donor's blood type must also be compatible with that of the intended recipient. Potential living donors are carefully considered in terms of fully understanding the physical and psychological risks that come with being a living donor.

What Are Living Donor Kidney Exchange Programs?

Family members or friends often offer to donate a kidney to patients. However, up to 35 percent of the time they are excluded because of biological incompatibility. Under various kidney exchange programs, individuals who are unable to donate a kidney to their intended recipients due to incompatibility are exchanged to form compatible pairs. The transplants are performed simultaneously. Kidney Exchange Programs are performed at certain New York transplant centers. They should be contacted directly for further information.