Living donation

Living donation is when someone donates one of their organs – usually a kidney - to someone else, whilst they are still alive. Most of us can live perfectly well with only one kidney, and yet nearly all of us have two. 

Most often living donors are close relatives or friend of the recipient, but you can still donate an organ to someone you do not know.

You can also donate part of your liver. 

Why do we need living donation?

Around 5,000 people in the UK are in need of a kidney transplant and across the UK, more than 250 patients died last year waiting for a kidney transplant, due to a shortage of organs.

Different kinds of living donation

If you know someone who needs a transplant and you wish to donate to them that is called directed kidney donation.

Find out more about being a living kidney donor here (pdf)

A living person who anonymously donates one of their kidneys to someone they do not already know is called a non-directed altruistic kidney donor.

Find out more about being a non-directed altruistic kidney donor here (pdf)

Sometimes if you are not a suitable 'match' for someone you wish to donate to  you can donate to someone else and another person can donate to your intended recipient, this is called paired/pooled donation and is part of the UK Living Kidney Sharing Schemes

Find out more about the UK Living Kidney Sharing Schemes here on paired/pooled donation here (pdf)

What can I donate?


Kidneys are the most common organ donated by a living person. About a third of all kidney transplants carried out in the UK are from living donors.

Could I be a living kidney donor? FAQs (pdf)

Could I give my kidney to someone I don't know? (pdf)

The UK Living Kidney Sharing Schemes (pdf)

Transplant TV living kidney donation films

Let's talk about... film series (Transplant TV)

Let's talk about... is a series of short films about living donor kidney transplantation which help to explain living donation through the eyes of living donors, transplant recipients and healthcare professionals.  


Living donor liver transplantation has been successfully performed in the UK since 1995.

A liver transplant operation is life saving surgery for patients with end stage liver disease.

Find out more about being a living liver donor here: 

Could I be a living liver donor? (pdf)


As a living donor you can donate your bone and amniotic membrane.

Can I become a living donor?

To become a living kidney or liver donor:

To become a tissue donor:

Further information