Living Donation

What is living donation?

Living donation is an alternative for individuals who are waiting for an organ transplant from a deceased donor. It is when a living person donates an organ – or part of an organ – to another person. While living donation usually involves the transplantation of a single kidney, there are instances when a person can donate a segment of their liver, the lobe of one lung, a portion of the pancreas or a portion of the intestine. However, the donation of a kidney is the most common form of living donation.

How does one become a living donor?

Individuals interested in becoming a living donor for a friend or family member waiting for a transplant should contact the transplant center where the patient is listed to learn how they can be evaluated as a potential living donor.

If one does not know of a particular person in need of a transplant but are nonetheless interested in donating to any patient waiting, they can seek to become what is called a “non-directed altruistic donor” (sometimes called a Good Samaritan donor). In this case, the potential living donor should contact a transplant center near them to inquire about the living donor evaluation process. You can find a list of transplant centers in New England Donor Services region here.

If listed for a transplant, how does one find a living donor?

A conversation with a transplant social worker at the transplant center is the best place to begin to learn how to proceed in identifying a potential living donor among your friends, family, co-workers or community.

What is Kidney Paired Donation?

Kidney paired donation is a transplant option for those waiting a transplant who have a willing, medically suitable living donor but cannot donate a kidney to their intended candidate because they are incompatible due to a blood type difference or other reason. Kidney paired donation will matches that incompatible donor/recipient pair with another pair in the same situation so that the donor in pair #1 gives to the recipient in pair #2, and the donor in pair #2 gives to the recipient in pair #1. The United Network for Organ Sharing has additional information on this innovative program here.