Where do I start?

To donate a kidney, you must be in good health and have normal kidney function and anatomy.

Donating To Someone You Know

First, the potential transplant recipient must be evaluated for a transplant before any potential living donors can be considered. A hospital that does transplants (transplant center) needs to evaluate the person to make sure they're a good candidate for a transplant and that they would benefit from having a transplant.

If the potential recipient has been approved for a transplant, then any potential living donors can contact the transplant center the recipient is working with to ask about donation. Ask to speak with the "Kidney Transplant Coordinator" about the possibility of donating. If you live far away from the recipient's hospital, they may refer you to another hospital in your local area for initial tests. But, you still need to start by contacting the potential recipient's hospital to begin the process and coordinate testing.

Can I get tested as a donor without the recipient knowing?
It may not be possible to be tested anonymously. You will need to ask the "Kidney Transplant Coordinator" or "Kidney Transplant Social Worker" at the recipient's hospital about this issue.

I want to be a donor to a friend or family member, but they won't let me. What can I do?
Some individuals with kidney failure may decide they do not want the transplant or choose not to consider a living donor. The person with kidney failure can choose to accept or reject your offer to donate. He or she has the right to decide against a transplant (though you may feel it would help). The patient, who must live with the disease, has the right to decide what is to be done. That decision, as well as yours, must be respected.

How can I find transplant centers in the U.S.?

To find a list of all U.S. transplant centers click here

  • Under Step 1, select a Member Type: choose "Transplant Centers by Organ"
  • Select "Kidney" under Organ Type.
  • Then choose your state or region.
  • Call and ask for the "Kidney Transplant Coordinator", who will be a registered nurse who can help.
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About NKF Cares
NKF Cares is a free, confidential hotline with trained professionals ready to answer your questions or concerns. Our peer-mentoring program, NKF PEERS, connects anyone affected by kidney disease with an informed and supportive mentor who has already been through the process.