Information for Kidney & Liver Donors

More and more patients are added to the national kidney and liver transplant waiting lists each year, but the number of available donors remains roughly consistent. As a result, potential kidney and liver recipients must wait to receive lifesaving care.

At the Mary Lea Johnson Richards Organ Transplantation Center, our doctors are able to perform transplantation using living donors, allowing us to bypass the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list. This has resulted in shorter waiting times and improved outcomes for critically ill kidney and liver recipients.

Kidney donors provide one of their two kidneys for a transplant. The remaining kidney is fully functioning and ensures that the donor maintains his or her quality of life. New surgical techniques, including minimally invasive kidney extraction, are making it easier for family members and others to donate a kidney to a loved one in need.

Liver donors provide part of the liver to a recipient. Both the donor and recipient's livers grow back to full size approximately three months after the surgery.

There is no financial or medical benefit to donating a kidney or part of your liver, but helping another person to live can be a very rewarding experience. We complete an extensive evaluation process in order to minimize the risks to the donor, ensuring safety above everything else.

Though potential donors are usually immediate family members, such as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, or daughters, distant relatives and close friends can also donate.

Advantages of Living Donation

One of the main benefits of living donation is that it allows the organ recipient to prepare for surgery. The surgery can be done on an elective basis while the recipient is still relatively healthy. The surgical date can be planned around your family’s schedule, as well as the schedule of your medical team.

Typically, the healthier the recipient is prior to the transplant, the better the surgical outcome. The goal is to perform a transplant early in the disease process, before other organs and systems are affected. This allows for a safer procedure, speeds the recovery process, and improves surgical outcomes.

Initial Consultation

All prospective donors complete a series of medical examinations and interviews with our staff to determine whether they are appropriate candidates for living donation. The consultation may include: 

  • multiple blood tests
  • imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, or CT
  • cardiac evaluation for donors older than age 50
  • pulmonary testing, particularly if you smoke
  • a meeting with a social worker or psychologist
  • a discussion with a transplant surgeon

During the consultation process, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) or hepatologist (liver specialist) acts as your advocate. This specialist helps to minimize the risks associated with donating and to determine whether additional testing is needed.

When your evaluation is complete, our transplant team meets with you to discuss your test results and candidacy. If the team is in agreement, the surgery is scheduled on an elective basis, with consideration given to the donor and recipient’s schedules.

Knowing Your Organ Donation Options

The decision to become a living donor is a very important personal decision that needs to be made without pressure from the recipient, the recipient’s family, or friends. If, during the consultation, you decide not to pursue living donation, you may simply stop the process. The recipient remains active on the waiting list and can still pursue other potential donors.

Prospective donors are invited to contact us for more information by calling 212-263-8134.