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Donation Options

Only one kidney is needed for transplant since a person can be healthy with only one working kidney.

There are three ways that you can receive a kidney for transplant:

  • A living related kidney (from a brother, sister, parent, aunt, uncle, or cousin) or a living non-related kidney can come from a husband, wife, friend, or extended family (e.g., an in-law).
    • If a family member or friend offers to donate a kidney to you, besides the tests to see if the kidney is compatible, he or she will have to have a full medical screening to make sure that giving up one kidney would not harm his or her health. He or she will also have psychological testing.
    • There have been major advances in kidney removal and transplant over the years. However, having any surgery always carries some risks to you and your living donor. Your doctor and healthcare team will go over the risks of the surgery with you both. You can use this information to help you in your decision.
  • A deceased donor kidney (from a person who has recently died and expressed a wish to donate his/her organs after death).
    • To obtain a deceased donor transplant, you will be put on a waiting list for a kidney at a transplant center. The waiting period may be a few months to several years. When a kidney becomes available, each patient on the list with a matching blood type has a tissue match done from a blood sample kept on hand at the transplant center.

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Take a quick look at all of the treatment options for kidney failure and how they can affect your life in this simple-to-read chart.