Thinking about donating to anyone who needs it?

(Anonymous or non–directed donation)

Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The living donor is usually a family member or friend of the recipient.

If you are thinking about being a non–directed living donor, you should follow these steps:

  1. Educate Yourself

    To begin, you should first read everything you can about living donation, outcomes, risks, and benefits.

    Q&A on living donation: Read the Q&A carefully to ensure that you understand the risks and benefits, the evaluation process, surgery process, and possible outcomes.

    Consensus Statement on the Live Organ Donor: The Consensus Statement was published in the December 13, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Table 1 lists elements of disclosure for potential living donors — meaning, these are all the things you should ask the transplant center prior to donation. That way you can make an informed decision.

  2. Consider Your Reasons

    Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of donation. Think about your reasons for wanting to donate, and the impact of the donation on you and your family – emotionally, physically, and financially.

  3. Important Note

    Living donation is a gift made from the donor to the recipient with no expectation of material compensation. Under U.S. law, it is illegal to buy or sell organs. Donors are never financially compensated. Under federal law, it is illegal to receive money or gifts in exchange for an organ donation. In addition, donors are often responsible for their own travel expenses and any time lost from work.

  4. Request Information

    If you decide to pursue donation, you will need to contact transplant centers (hospitals that perform transplant operations) in your area about the possibility of being a living donor. Or, you can contact other organizations that help facilitate living donation.

    • You can find a list of all U.S. transplant centers by state online here.
      • Under Step 1, select a Member Type: choose "Transplant Centers"
      • Under Step 2, choose the state of residence (or surrounding states)
      • Call and ask for the "Kidney Transplant Coordinator", who will be a registered nurse who can help.
      • If the center accepts non–directed donors, you will undergo rigorous physical and psychological testing to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for donation. This process is not easy, and does take time. You can find out more about the evaluation process in the NKF's Q&A on living donation.
    • You can also try contacting one of the following organizations for help. (Note: these organizations and their websites are not under the control of the NKF, and NKF assumes no responsibility for their content or services. These links are provided for information purposes only, and should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation by the National Kidney Foundation.)
      • Alliance for Paired Donation: The mission of the Alliance for Paired Donation™ is to save lives by significantly reducing the wait time for a kidney transplant through kidney paired donation. For more information, visit their website.
      • National Kidney Registry: The mission of the National Kidney Registry is to save and improve the lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed, and number of living donor transplants in the world. For more information, visit their website.

    You may also want to meet with a financial counselor at the hospital to discuss your situation as it relates to lost work time, testing expenses, etc. Most transplant centers have a financial counselor who can help you.

  5. What Else Can I Do?

    You may not be able to be a living donor – or you may decide that living donation isn't right for you. You can still help those awaiting life–saving organ transplants. Here are a few ways you can make a difference.

    Be a Donor after your death.
    Donate blood, which also saves lives every day. For more information about blood donation, call the American Red Cross at (800) GIVE–LIFE or visit their website.

    Join the bone marrow registry. For more information about bone marrow or blood stem cell donation, contact the National Marrow Donor Program at (800) MARROW2 or visit their website.