Colleen’s Story: A Living Donor’s Experience
Kari’s good friend Colleen Glenney donated her kidney to a stranger five years ago. This is her story! If you have any questions for Colleen about her experience as a living kidney donor, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is happy to serve as a confidential resource if you’d like to reach out to her without Kari or her family knowing.
Benefits of Living Donation
Living donation eliminates the recipient's need for placement on the national waiting list. This means that a living donor can actually save two lives – that of their recipient and that a person who takes their place on the wait list.
Short and long term survival rates are significantly better for transplants from living donors than transplants from deceased donors. (On average, approximately 18 years for a kidney from a living donor compared to 13 years for a kidney from a deceased donor).
Living donor kidneys almost always start functioning immediately, whereas deceased donor kidneys can take from a few days to a few weeks to start functioning. (Often called a Sleepy Kidney)
A transplant gives the recipient the possibility of a normal, dialysis-free life, which allows for steady employment and more time for their family.
Health deteriorates the longer someone remains on dialysis.
A kidney transplant doubles the life expectancy compared to staying on kidney dialysis treatment.
Waiting for a deceased donor can be very stressful and unhealthy.
The surgery can be scheduled at a mutually-agreed upon time rather than performed on an emergency basis.
Potential donors receive a thorough medical work up at no expense, whether or not the donation eventually takes place.
Perhaps the most important aspect of living donation is the psychological benefit. The recipient can experience positive feelings knowing that the gift came from a loved one or a caring stranger. The donor experiences the satisfaction of knowing that he or she has contributed to the improved health of the recipient.
Who Can Donate
In general, to be a living donor an individual must be physically fit, in good health, free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and heart disease. Individuals considered for living donation are usually between 18-60 years of age. (Living donors older than 65 years of age have successfully donated.) Routine tests are always performed to determine not only the potential donor's level of physical and mental health, but also their compatibility with the patient awaiting a transplant. Results of these tests will determine if someone could donate. Living donation occurs only when there is informed consent that is freely given. This means, you should agree to be a living donor only after you have been fully educated on the subject, its risks and rewards, and when your agreement to donate is without pressure from other people.
How are medical cost covered for donors
All medical costs for the donor, including initial testing, hospitalization and surgery, are covered by Medicare and/or the recipient’s insurance. Whether or not the donation actually takes place, the donor will not be responsible for the costs of their medical testing and evaluation. It is illegal to buy or sell an organ in the United States. However, the recipient and/or fundraising may help to cover additional costs for the donor such as travel expenses, lodging before and after the surgery and potential loss of wages during the donor’s recovery period.
Links to more info on Living Donation
Living Kidney Donation at UCLA Medical Center:
Living Kidney Donor Network:
National Kidney Foundation: