Quick Facts About Living Donation

  • A live organ can come from a family member, good friend, spouse, in-law or even from a stranger. Thanks to improved medications, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant.
  • The organ most commonly given by a living donor is the kidney. People usually have two kidneys, and one is all that is needed to live a normal life. When the kidney is removed, the single normal kidney will increase in size to compensate for the loss of the donated kidney. Parts of other organs including the lung, liver and pancreas are now being transplanted from living donors.
  • To donate a kidney, you must be in good health and have normal kidney function.
  • There are some programs, such as paired exchange and plasmapheresis, that may help donor/recipient pairs with blood types that are incompatible. Click here for more information.
  • If you wish to donate to a stranger, it is important to educate yourself on donation and make sure you understand the risks and benefits of donation. If you decide to pursue donation, you will need to contact transplant centers in your area.
  • Donors are never financially compensated. Under federal law, it is illegal to receive money or gifts in exchange for an organ donation. The cost of the living donor's evaluation, testing and surgery are generally paid for by the recipient's Medicare or private health insurance. Time off from work and travel expenses are not covered by Medicare or private insurance. However, donors may be eligible for sick leave, state disability and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • A kidney can be removed in either of two ways, the traditional open surgery or the laparoscopic technique.