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Living Donation: Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What is the advantage of living donation?

A.  Living donation from a family member could potentially be a better genetic match which may lessen the risk of rejection.

Other advantages include less cold ischemic time on the organ so less potential for delayed graft function and the ability to schedule the transplant at an agreed upon date. Living donors will have shorter hospital stays, shorter recover time and potentially less postoperative problems. Back to Top

Q.  What are the costs related to living donation?

A.  Medical testing required by the transplant center to determine the overall health and suitability of a living donor are covered by Medicare. The cost of the transplant surgery and postoperative care following surgery is covered by the recipient’s insurance. 

If anything is found during living donor workup that requires treatment or additional medical care the cost of additional testing, procedures, etc. is covered by the potential living donor’s insurance. Back to Top

Q.  Are there any lifestyle changes required before becoming a living donor?

A.  Living donors are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition and exercise. There are certain habits that may need to be altered leading up to the time of donation. If the living donor smokes or uses other forms of tobacco they will required to stop a minimum of 30 days prior to the donation due to the higher risks posed by them in any type of surgical procedure-strokes, heart attacks, delayed healing, etc. Education and guidance for cessation will be given by members of the transplant team.

Use of recreational drugs will also be discussed and a drug screen will be performed, and results will be reviewed with the living donor. Any medications being taken from over the counter will be evaluated by the transplant team and recommendations given if they need to be discontinued or changed. Back to Top

Q.  What are the risks of living donation?

A.  Living donation is a surgical procedure so the typical surgical risks may be expected such as pain/discomfort, bleeding, infection, activity restrictions, etc. postoperatively. Most living donor procedures are done laparoscopically but may need to be converted to an open procedure if unforeseen circumstances arise. Back to Top

Q.  Will living donation prevent my ability to become pregnant?

A.  If the living donor is of childbearing age, a discussion should be held with your physician and/or gynecologist. A recommendation to wait six months or longer following donation may be given before becoming pregnant.

An alternative method of birth control would also need to be discussed for time frame PRIOR to living donation as birth control pills will be stopped due to a potentially higher risk of blood clot formation associated with their usage. Back to Top

Q.  Is there any financial assistance available for living donors?

A.  Financial assistance may be available through the National Living Donor Assistance Program. Any concerns should be discussed with members of the transplant team as you begin the screening/work-up process to ensure ample time is allowed for the application process. Back to Top

Q.  What will be the follow-up after living donation?

A.  Typically, a living donor will be released within two days following surgery. Follow-up visits will then be scheduled at one week, six weeks, six months, one year and two years after donation to ensure the health of the living donor. Back to Top

Q.  Can I change my mind about becoming a living donor?

A.  A potential living donor can change their mind at any point of the process up to and including prior to the actual surgery. Reasons for the change of decision is kept confidential. Back to Top

Q.  What if the living donor is not compatible with their intended recipient?

A.  If a living donor is found to be incompatible with their intended recipient a discussion can be held with the transplant team members about potentially participating in a paired exchange program. The paired exchange program would allow the living donor to still donate an organ to another recipient and the intended recipient would receive an organ from another living donor. Additional information about paired exchange programs can be found by following the links found on the Resources page. Back to Top

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Last Updated: 9/17/21