Frequently asked questions
Who can be a living donor?
Anyone who is older than age 18 and in good physical and emotional health can apply to be a living donor.
Does blood type matter?
A donor and recipient do not have to have matching blood types. Anyone who is older than age 18 and in good physical and emotional health can apply to be a living donor.
Why is a live donor better?
- The kidney can last two times longer than a deceased donor kidney
- The recipient will have a shorter wait time, often just months instead of years, when the recipient is in better health
- The surgery is scheduled when it works best for the donor and recipient, and recovery is easier
- The recipient receives a great kidney, and the best match
- It shortens the deceased donor waitlist by removing the recipient
What are the risks for being a living kidney donor?
This is a safe procedure, but all surgeries have risks. Risks include:
- Significant bleeding (rare)
- Blood transfusion (rare)
- Return to the operating room (very rare, <1 in 100)
- Wound complications (rare)
- Developing high blood pressure (risk may be slightly higher for donors)
- Renal failure over lifetime (may be slightly higher for donors)
- Death during the surgery (very low, estimated at 3 in 10,000)
What does a living kidney donor have to do to be tested and approved for organ donation?
Tests ensure donors are healthy enough to donate. It is a very thorough evaluation. There are three parts to the donation evaluation: medical tests, education about living donation and review and discussions with the living donation team. The Mayo Clinic team includes social workers, kidney specialists, surgeons, dieticians, nurse coordinators and our living donor advocate
How is a living kidney donor surgery performed?
Surgery is generally done with the laparoscopic method where a few tiny incisions (5-10 mm) are made and a camera and instruments are inserted.
The kidney is removed through a small incision at the pant line. The surgery takes about three hours. The donor often goes home two days after surgery.
What are the costs for a living donor?
Most expenses, including the donor’s evaluation and surgery, are paid by the recipient’s insurance. Additionally, there may be other costs accrued during the process. Our foundation can discuss further, and may be able to assist to offset those costs.