Introduction

Although the majority of organ donations originate for deceased donors, there are a variety of different organs that can be donated by living donors. Since the first successful kidney transplant between two twin brothers in 1954, living donation has allowed many patients awaiting organ transplants an alternative to the long national transplant waiting list.

Use the tabs below to learn about living organ donation.


The best option when selecting a donor has always been a living relative of the patient. More recently however, kidneys transplanted from unrelated donors have been as successful as those from close relatives. The medical requirements to become a living donor are as follows:

  • The candidate should be in good physical and mental health.
  • The candidate should be free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or organ-specific diseases.
  • The candidate should be at least 18 years of age.

In addition to these requirements, it is also recommended that living donors:

  • Be well informed (have a basic understanding of the risks and benefits for both the donor and recipient)
  • Have the support of significant others
  • Have no alcohol or substance abuse problems
  • Have psychiatric diagnoses well controlled over an extended period of time

As living donation is a major surgical operation, all the risks of a major surgical operation apply. For a complete list of complications, you may visit the Transplant Living website.

Non-related

When the donor is not blood related to the transplant patient.

Altruistic Donation

When a donor who does not personally know the transplant patient donates their organ out of selfless motives.

Paired Donation

When a patient has a willing living kidney donor that does not match with the patient, a paired donation, in which two kidney donor/recipient pairs whose blood types are not compatible trade donors, can still make the transplant a reality.

Kidney Donor Waiting List Exchange

When someone wants to donate a kidney, but a paired exchange is not possible because a suitable match cannot be found, living donors (in certain areas of the country) may be eligible for a living kidney donor list exchange. Here, a kidney donor who is not compatible with their intended recipient may offer to donate to a stranger on the waiting list.  After that transplant occurs, the intended recipient advances on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney.

Blood Type Incompatible

A new approach that allows candidates to receive organs from donors who do not have a matching blood type.

You can get in-depth information about living donation at any of the following links.