Kidney Donation

Kidney Donation

There are 2 options for a kidney transplant: 

Deceased Donation

To get a kidney from a deceased donor, you must be active on a deceased donor transplant waitlist. Even if you prefer a kidney from a living donor, make sure your name is on the waitlist so that you have that option. Once you are added, you may receive an organ fairly quickly or you may have to wait for years. 


The average wait is between 3 to 5 years at most transplant centers. Wait time may be longer in some geographical areas. To increase your chances of getting a kidney, you may want to get on the transplant waitlist at several transplant centers. 

Living Donation

Many people who need transplants of organs and tissues can’t get them because of a shortage of donations from deceased donors. The demand for kidneys exceeds the supply. More than 101,000 people in the United States need a kidney. But only 2% of people die in a way that makes their organs suitable for transplant. As a result, only a small fraction of kidneys from deceased donors are available for donation. Organ and tissue donations from living donors help give others a second chance at life. 

Photo of a smiling couple forming a heart with their hands.

What is a Living Donor?

A living donation is when a living person donates an organ or part of an organ to someone in need of a transplant. Most of the time the donor is a close family member, such as a parent, child, brother, or sister. But a donor can be a more distant family member, spouse, friend, or coworker. Nondirected donors are becoming more common. They donate anonymously and don’t know their recipients. 

Photo of a smiling, healthy woman tending her vegetable garden

How Does Someone Become a Living Donor?

To donate a kidney, you must be in good physical health with normal kidney function. Certain medical conditions can prevent you from being a living donor. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or acute infections are some conditions. A serious mental health condition also may prevent you from being a donor. 

Two women seated on a sofa, having a deep conversation

How Do I Find a Living Donor?

To find a living donor, educate your family and friends about kidney transplantation and donation. Even if you aren’t comfortable asking people to donate, make them aware of your need for a donor. If someone is interested, they can ask for more information. Interested donors can be tested for a potential match. 

Living Donor Myths

There are many myths about what happens when you donate a kidney. Do you know the facts? Take this short quiz to find out. 

Photo of a woman talking to friends

Key Strategies to Finding a Living Donor

Don’t leave finding a living donor to chance. Use these key strategies: 

  1. Bust myths 
  2. Know the facts 
  3. Create your story 
  4. Spread the word 
  5. Build a network of advocates 
  6. Learn from peers 
  7. Create an action plan