- Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease
- Kidney Disease Stages
- What Is a Nephrologist?
- What to Expect with CKD
- Kidney Disease Management
- Understanding Acute Kidney Injury
- How Kidneys Work
- Take a FREE CLASS on Kidney Disease
What to Know About Becoming a Kidney Transplant Donor
Donating a kidney is one of the kindest things you can do for someone. While a kidney transplant may not last a lifetime, it can give someone anywhere from 12-15 years of healthy life—and relief from the complications of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Some people may need multiple transplants during their life, depending on age and health.
A kidney donation is when a person with 2 healthy, functioning kidneys undergoes surgery to give 1 kidney to a person with late or end stage renal disease. You may already know that you can register to be an organ donor and your organs, eyes and skin can save up to 8 lives after you pass away. You can also choose to become a living donor and give 1 of your kidneys to someone in need, like a friend or relative. People who wish to become living kidney transplant donors need testing beforehand to check compatibility and health, transplant surgery and a brief recovery period.
What do the kidneys do?
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on either side of your spine, just below your rib cage. How many kidneys does a person have? Most people are born with 2 kidneys. Healthy kidneys work to filter waste, toxins and excess fluid from your blood to help keep you healthy. Your kidneys also perform other functions that help maintain your overall health, including releasing certain hormones, controlling sodium and fluid levels, stimulating production of red blood cells and creating vitamin D. Your body needs kidney function to survive. After kidney failure, dialysis and medication or a kidney transplant is needed to replace normal kidney function.
Can you live with one kidney?
Fortunately, a person really only needs 1 functioning kidney to lead a healthy life. During a living kidney transplant surgery, 1 healthy kidney is removed from the donor to be placed in the transplant recipient—leaving 1 healthy kidney intact. That single kidney can work to filter blood and perform all its other functions to help keep the donor healthy over a lifetime.
Insurance and kidney donation
Your pre-op and surgical expenses will probably be covered by the insurance of the person receiving your kidney. You may be responsible for travel expenses, and post-surgical treatment may rely on your own insurance.
Preparing to donate a kidney
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE DONATING A KIDNEY
Want to become a living kidney donor? See more considerations to factor into your decision.