The living kidney donation process
What’s involved in the process for living kidney donors
All living kidney donors undergo a comprehensive assessment to minimise the short and long term risks to them, and to ensure the recipient receives the best possible transplant.
Not everyone who offers is suitable to donate for a number of reasons, but the transplant teams appreciate the decision of anyone who comes forward.
If you are considering donating a kidney to either a family member, friend or to a stranger, we understand that you will have a lot of questions.
Thinking about becoming a living kidney donor?
It’s important that all potential donors have an understanding of the various steps in the living kidney donation process. Please also discuss and share this information with your family and those closest to you.
In the case of directed donation - this is when a person donates to someone they know, such as a family member or a friend - please take the time to discuss this with the potential recipient as they will want to be part of the decision process.
You have to complete and return the healthcheck questionnaire and GP contact form to start the process as this will help the renal and transplant teams gather information about your suitability before inviting you to a hospital appointment. The living donor transplant co-ordinator or specialist nurse is your point of contact throughout the process.
If the transplant teams are happy that there are no clear medical reasons why you could not donate, you will be asked to undertake some initial medical tests which will include blood pressure checks, blood samples and urine checks. This may also include an appointment for review by a psychologist or psychiatrist, pending circumstances.
The second stage of tests which will happen further into the process include scans and xrays, which are carried out to check your general health and kidney function. All the test results are reviewed by the surgeon and a multi-disciplinary team.
Often further tests may be requested at any stage and these could require referral to other specialist areas.
You will meet the living donor transplant co-ordinator, surgeon, kidney doctor and other healthcare professionals at various points in the process.
At every stage, the risks and benefits of living kidney donation will be discussed with you. There will be particular emphasis on the risks for the donor, including the very small risk of death (estimated a 1 in 3,000).
Major complications are rare and can include damage to the major blood vessels or organs. Most complications are minor and may include chest, wound or urine infections. These risks will be fully explained to you.
When the healthcare professionals, donor and recipient are all happy to proceed, a review is arranged with an Independent Assessor on behalf of the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). It is a legal requirement in the UK that any living kidney donor transplant has HTA approval.
- If you are a directed donor then your operation date will be agreed with you.
- If you are incompatible with your recipient, the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme will be discussed with you.
- In some circumstances compatible donor and recipients will also be entered into the sharing scheme. These options will be explored with you.