Could I be a living kidney donor?

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Donating a kidney is a major decision and it takes courage to be a kidney donor. There are many things that you should know before considering kidney donation.

Kidneys may be donated by people who have died or by living donors who wish to help a loved one.

It is important that anyone who wants to be considered as a living kidney donor thinks seriously about the possibility.

Points to consider are:

  • the survival of transplants from living donors is significantly better, allowing more people to receive and benefit from a kidney transplant
  • living donors who are close relatives can be an excellent tissue-type match for the recipient and this can be an added bonus for the recipient
  • unrelated donors, such as spouses, are unlikely to be well matched to the recipient. However, in all but the perfectly matched situation, the success rates of these transplants are equal to those of related donors
  • living kidney donation allows the transplant operation to be planned at a time that is convenient for the recipient and the donor and for some people this can be planned before the need for dialysis
  • recipients who are transplanted prior to dialysis have better long-term transplant survival.

Living kidney donation in the UK is increasing.

This is against the following background:

  • the number of people needing kidney transplants continues to increase
  • there are not enough kidneys from donors who have died available for transplant
  • the average waiting time for a kidney transplant is two and a half to three years and for some minority ethnic groups it may be more than five years.

Donating a kidney to a child

The average waiting time for a kidney transplant for children is between six to twelve months and for some children the wait can take up to five years.

Where a child is involved, donors are normally a close relative with parents being the most usual donors. Grandparents or siblings can also be considered depending upon their age and aunts and uncles can donate if tissue matching is suitable.

Living kidney donation to children FAQs

The Renal Taskforce - a partnership with industry

In May 2005 a joint initiative, the Renal Taskforce, was launched to increase the numbers of transplants performed from living donors.

Building upon the experience of the UKT-funded living donor schemes, it is a unique collaboration and is supported by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI), the National Health Service (NHS), the Association of Renal Industries (ARI) the Department of Health (DH) and UKT.

The Renal Taskforce scheme is funding two living donor co-ordinator posts in Preston and Wolverhampton for an 18-month pilot period, and has recently produced two new Gift of Life information booklets for patients and their families considering living donation.

The booklets have been developed with input from colleagues throughout the transplant community and funding has been provided to make these available nationwide.

The booklets are not available from the Organ Donor Line but can be obtained from local representatives of Astellas, Novartis and Roche.
Join the Organ Donor Register 0300 123 23 23