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living donation

Living donation is the way the medical profession refers to donating an organ to someone in need while the donor is living. Living donors may donate a kidney, a part of the liver and in some rare cases, a portion of the pancreas, intestine and a lung.

Who can donate?

Most living donors are over the age of 18 and are compatible with the intended transplant candidate. Since some donor health conditions can prevent the donation and transplant from being successful, it is important for candidates to share all information about their physical and mental health with doctors and medical staff during the evaluation process.

Living donors should be in good overall physical and mental health and free from uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and active substance abuse.

How can I find out if I'm a match for someone?

Living donors and potential recipients are matched by blood type and tissue type; physical size and age are also taken into consideration. Gender and ethnicity are not factors in matching patients, although some matches are more frequent within certain ethnic groups. Contact a transplant center in your area for more information.

What is the process like for living donation?

To be considered as a living donor, a transplant center will need to conduct a psychosocial and medical evaluation. These tests are important to protect the donor and ensure the success of the transplant. The type of tests that will likely be conducted include: blood, urine, chest x-ray, CT scan or MRI, gynecological, and cancer screening. The evaluation process will help the donor understand all aspects of donation and will also highlight the medical and psychological risks.

Hospital stays and recovery time estimates vary on a case by case basis. Generally, as a kidney donor, one could expect to stay in the hospital for two to three days post-surgery. Most kidney donors resume normal activities after two to four weeks depending on the physical demands of daily life and work. As a liver donor, one could expect to stay in the hospital up to a week or longer in some cases. The liver typically regrows to normal size in two months. Most liver donors return to work and normal activities within three months.