Benefits and Risks of Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

Advances in surgery and care now allow people to donate a kidney to help relatives, friends, or even strangers in need of transplant.

Living-donor kidney transplants increase the number of organs available for patients on the transplant waitlist.

Benefits of Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

Living-donor transplant offers many advantages for people with chronic kidney disease. Donors have the additional benefit of knowing that they have contributed to another person’s life in a very meaningful way.

Little or no wait time

  • Living-donor kidney transplant can take place sooner, providing a way for recipients to avoid transplant waitlist times of one to four years.
  • Donors and recipients can plan the surgery for a time that's convenient for them. Scheduling living-donor kidney transplant surgery also ensures the recipient is in the best medical condition.

Quicker recovery time for kidney recipients

  • Donating a kidney does not typically diminish the donor's long-term quality of life. The majority of organ donors return to a full and active life within months following living-donor kidney surgery.
  • Because the transplanted organ comes from a healthy, living person, the recipient's time spent recovering from kidney transplant is often shorter.

Improved long-term outcomes for kidney transplant recipients

  • Compared to deceased-donor transplants, recipients of living-donor kidneys have better outcomes because surgeons transplant the kidney immediately after removing it from the donor. This improves the chances that the transplanted organ will function right away. A kidney from a deceased-donor may need to be stored for many hours before it can be transplanted, and it may take a few days to function properly.
  • A kidney from a living-donor helps to ensure that the transplanted organ will be of better quality, and therefore more likely will reduce the risk of kidney transplant failure.

Risks of Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

With any surgical procedure, there are also inherent risks both the kidney donor and recipient must carefully consider.

Post surgical discomfort

Following the surgery, it's common to feel weak and have limited energy. Our living-donor transplant team will prescribe medications to help eliminate any discomfort.

Infection

An infection at the surgical site can delay the healing process. Our living-donor kidney transplant team will continue to monitor the donor's health following the procedure and take precautions to minimize the risk of infection.

Kidney damage or other complications

Kidney transplant surgery includes the risk of organ damage, further complications, or even death. However, UPMC's internationally renowned transplant surgeons have experience with complex cases, reducing the risks for complications during surgery.

Become a Kidney Donor

If you'd like more information about becoming a kidney donor, call toll-free 1-877-640-6746 or contact a UPMC living-donor kidney transplant nurse coordinator at:

  • 412-647-5647
  • 412-647-5489
  • 412-647-5512

To schedule an evaluation for living-kidney donation, please complete the above “Can I be a donor?” form and submit to transplant@upmc.edu, and a member of the kidney transplant team will reach out to you in the near future.

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