Kidney Transplant Donor

A kidney transplant donor (kidney donor) is someone who is willing and able to donate one or both of their kidneys, for kidney transplant.

How is it possible for someone to donate both kidneys?

Well, it is possible for someone to agree to donate both kidneys (and other organs) after they die.

A kidney donor may be either alive or deceased (dead).

There are organ donor programs that allow persons with healthy organs (including kidneys) to volunteer or agree to donate their organs, after they die.

These programs are usually administered by local health authorities. (For information on organ donor programs in your area, please contact your local health authority).

Unfortunately, statistics continue to show a steady increase in the cases of renal (kidney) failure. As the list of patients requiring kidney transplants continue to grow, the kidneys available for transplant are not enough to supply the demand.

Living Kidney Transplant Donor

The acute shortage of donated kidneys would be much more severe if donated kidneys were only taken from deceased donors. Fortunately, it is possible for someone to live a normal healthy life with one properly functioning kidney. This, therefore, makes it possible for a living person to donate one of their kidneys, without compromising their health.

A kidney donation from a living donor may have the following advantages over a kidney donation from a deceased donor.

  • A kidney from a living donor may be in better condition than one from a deceased donor.

  • Transplanting a kidney from a living donor allows for greater preparation of the transplant operation.

  • A transplant from a living donor may allow for better matching of the blood and tissue profiles of both donor and recipient.

Compatibility

When someone agrees to become a kidney donor, doctors cannot simply remove one of their kidneys and transplant it to a kidney transplant patient. First, the blood and tissue profiles of both the kidney transplant donor and the recipient should be closely matched.

Compatibility of blood and tissue profiles of the kidney donor and the recipient reduces the risk of the transplanted kidney being rejected by the recipient's immune system. To further reduce the risk of kidney rejection, a regimen of immunosuppressive (or anti-rejection) medication must be given to the recipient, after a kidney transplant surgery.

The chances of compatible blood and tissue profiles are increased among close relatives. While it is possible for two complete strangers to have similar blood and tissue profiles, a close relative is a good prospect for a living kidney donor.

Criteria for a Living Kidney Transplant Donor

As stated earlier, "the kidney donor and the recipient should have compatible blood and tissue profiles." Additionally, a living donor should be in satisfactory physical health.

If the kidney donor is seriously ill, then a surgery to remove one of their kidneys could place them at risk of complications or even death. Consequently, before the kidney of a living donor is accepted, their physical health must first be assessed.

The age of a potential donor may also influence whether they are accepted as a kidney transplant donor. Younger donors are more desirable since their organs tend to be more durable. They also recover from surgery much faster than older persons.

Deceased Kidney Transplant Donor

Approximately 50% of all donated kidneys are from deceased donors. This group of donors is just as important as live or living donors. If someone wishes to become an organ donor, after they die, they will usually volunteer or agree to this while they are alive.

A deceased donor may either be brain dead or non-heart beating. Someone who is brain dead is considered to be medically dead, although their heart continues to beat.

It is easier to remove a kidney (or kidneys) from a brain dead donor, without compromising the health of the organ, than a non-heart beating donor. The reason for this is simple. With someone who is brain dead, their heart continues to pump and maintains circulation throughout the body.

With non-heart beating donors, however, time is of the essence. Once the heart stops, blood circulation stops as well. Since oxygen and other life sustaining chemicals are no longer supplied to the organs, they begin to degenerate, or die. Also, coagulation or clotting of the blood can begin to affect the health of the kidney if it is not removed and properly preserved, after an organ donor's heart permanently stops pumping.

It is extremely crucial for the kidney of a non-heart beating kidney donor to be removed and properly stored, soon after they die.

As is also the case with a living kidney transplant donor, the blood and tissue profile of both the deceased donor and recipient, should also be compatible.

Making a decision to become an organ donor, after ones demise, could be difficult but extremely noble and generous. It is literally offering someone else the gift of life. You can also think of it as, a part of you continuing to live even after your death.

If you, or someone you know, would like to become a kidney transplant donor (or an organ donor), please contact your local Health Authority for details of the registration process. Donating an organ is not only a noble gesture but, more importantly, a life-saving one.