Jefferson University Hospitals

Living Donor Kidney Transplant

Because of the shortage of available organs and the successful outcome following kidney transplants from living donors, Jefferson's Kidney Transplant team encourages transplants between spouses, friends and even strangers. In fact, nearly one-quarter of live donor transplants now come from donors who are not blood relatives.

In a living donor kidney transplant, a kidney is removed from a live donor and placed into a recipient whose kidneys no longer function properly; only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys. Those who choose to become living donors have the same life expectancy rate and the same quality of life as those who have never donated a kidney. 

Along with the National Kidney Registry and other paired donation registries, we work with live donors and their recipients – helping to facilitate kidney transplantation between relatives and nonrelatives alike. We provide comprehensive support to both donors and recipients – including our transplant coordinators, live donor advocates, financial coordinators and social workers, as well as our team of medical specialists.

Do You Meet the Requirements for Donating a Kidney?

To donate a kidney to a friend or loved one, you must meet a number of criteria:

  • Be in good health and free of chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease
  • Have two normal-functioning kidneys
  • Be willing to undergo a series of physical exams and tests, including: Chest X-ray, Electrocardiogram, Blood studies, CT scan, Urine studies
  • Undergo a social service and psychological evaluation
  • Be at least 18 years of age

Are you interested in donating, but not sure if you can be a donor? Call 1-888-855-6649 and speak directly with one of our transplant professionals who can help you understand if you're an applicable donor.

Are You and the Recipient Compatible?

Living donors and recipients undergo an extensive evaluation process. The recipient is selected according to national rules that govern the allocation of organs for transplantation. The recipient needs to have a "compatible" kidney donor. Being compatible means that the recipient has no antibodies in his or her blood that would react against the donor kidney. We use the following blood tests to determine donor-recipient compatibility:

  • Blood typing
  • Tissue typing
  • Cross matching
  • Antibody screening

These tests help to determine how well the donor's organ will be accepted by the patient's body after transplant.

What If You and the Recipient are Not Compatible?

In the event that a potential living donor is incompatible with their intended recipient and a nonrelated living donor is unavailable, a living kidney exchange is another option available at Jefferson.

Within the last several years, the transplantation community has addressed this obstacle by building an infrastructure that allows living kidney exchanges to take place. This infrastructure allows the incompatible donor and recipient groups to be joined with another incompatible group or groups. The result: The living donors donate their kidneys to another incompatible group and, in turn, their chosen potential recipients are transplanted from other living donors, as well.

Jefferson's Kidney Transplant Program recognizes that living kidney exchange is currently the best solution to the problem of incompatibility between willing living kidney donors and their potential recipients when no other living kidney donor options exist. We currently partner with three kidney paired exchange programs.

Benefits of Donating

Living donor transplants offer several benefits over deceased donor transplants, including:

  • Better short- and long-term survival rates for recipients
  • Less time spent on a waiting list, which may prevent deterioration of health or the need to start dialysis
  • Responsiveness - Living-donor kidneys almost always work immediately; there can be a delay in function in deceased donor kidneys 

Download and complete our Living Donor Medical Assessment and Referral Form and e-mail it to livingdonor@jefferson.edu if you are interested in being considered as a living kidney donor.