Donating a kidney to a child

The average waiting time for a kidney transplant (from a deceased donor) for children is between six to twelve months, but for some children the wait can last up to five years.

Where a child is involved, living 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, uncles and other family members or close friends may also be able to donate.

Key questions answered

Kidney recipient Aliza with her mother
Kidney recipient Aliza with her mother

Will you be operated on in the same hospital?

This depends upon where your surgery takes place. Some hospitals look after both adults and children whilst others are exclusively for children.

Wherever you are, there will be a team of people caring for each of you.

The donor assessment and operation will always be performed in an adult transplant centre. This will be nearby if you and your child are cared for in separate hospitals.

How long could you be separated from your child?

As a kidney donor you will need time to recover from the immediate effects of the surgery. This is dependent upon the type of operation you have and your individual recovery. You will be anxious to see your child but it is also important that you rest as much as possible in the first few days to help your recovery.

You will be able to stay in touch by telephone and family members and friends will be able to visit both of you. If you are in separate hospitals, you will be able to see your child once you have been discharged home.

The staff caring for both you and your child realise how important it is that contact is maintained and if you are operated on in the same hospital, they will bring you to visit your child as soon as you are able.

Who will care for your child whilst you are in hospital?

You will need to plan for the care of your child whilst you are in hospital well in advance and your transplant team can help you to do this. In some families the non-donating parent stays with the child but a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or close family friend may be nominated instead. Whoever it is, it needs to be someone both you and your child feel comfortable with and who understands what is involved in being with your child in hospital.

You can speak to your child’s doctor or nurse about this and they will be able to give you more information to help you decide. It is important to make childcare arrangements for any other children you may have and for some help at home immediately after you leave hospital. 

If you are donating, how long will it take you to recover?

Recovery can take between four to twelve weeks, depending upon the donor operation and your individual progress. You will need to rest following discharge from hospital and will need to plan in advance for others to help caring for your child and with day-to-day domestic tasks.

Become a living kidney donor

If you are not a suitable 'match' for someone you wish to donate to, it may be possible for you to join a sharing scheme and be matched with another donor recipient pair in the same situation and for the donor kidneys to be 'exchanged' or 'swapped'.

More information

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