For kidney donor

As you consider donating a kidney you may have some mixed emotions. The decision may be easy or difficult depending on your situation.

The decision to donate a kidney is personal. There are many things you will need to think about but, most important, you must choose what is right for you. You should not feel any pressure or feel rushed into making a decision.

The decision to donate a kidney is yours and yours alone. You will work closely with the members of your health care team for the best care possible. The transplant team will answer all of your questions and listen to your concerns. 

Feel free to jot down notes and/or questions for your health care team in this booklet. Share it with family members or friends who may be helping with your care. Bring it with you to your appointments.

Kidney donation

You may donate a kidney to a blood relative (parent, sibling or child) or an unrelated person (partner, colleague, friend).

If you decide to donate, there are many tests both you and the kidney recipient will need to take. These blood tests will show if your blood and tissue will work with the recipient. If you and the recipient have a good match and are emotionally ready, surgery will be scheduled.

If you decide not to donate, the transplant coordinator will respect your decision and talk with the recipient in a way to protect your privacy.

If the recipient cannot find a living donor, he or she may receive a kidney from a deceased donor. The recipient's name is placed on a nationwide donation waiting list. Finding a match may take several years. During this time, the recipient will need to continue having dialysis. Once a match is found, surgery needs to happen within 24 hours.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Kidney Transplant Information for Recipients and Donors, renal_ahc_93498
Reviewed By: Allina Patient Education experts, including the Transplantation Department of Abbott Northwestern Hospital
First Published: 05/15/2009
Last Reviewed: 05/15/2009

Kidney transplant surgeons

This surgery is being performed at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis by:

Mark J Hill, MD, PhD

Mark D Odland, MD

Chad J Richardson, MD

Other online resources

If you find information on a website, show it to your transplant coordinator to make sure it is medically correct. Reliable websites include: National Kidney Foundation Life Options United Network for Organ Sharing

  • If you have any questions, please call the transplant coordinator. He or she will answer your questions or get you the information you need. Also, you will meet with the social worker to talk about your feelings and questions.
  • The evaluation process can take two to three months or longer. The transplant team wants to make sure that you are healthy and that the risks to you are slight.