Maine Medical Center: Living Kidney Donation

Why Donate a Kidney?

For Donors:

  • Provides an opportunity to extend life
  • Laparoscopic surgery minimizes trauma for the donor
  • Donors have excellent short and long term outcomes
  • Removes a patient from the waiting list and increases access to transplantation for those without a living donor

For Recipients:

  • Elective (non-emergency) surgery
  • Avoids prolonged waiting time
  • May be able to avoid dialysis
  • May need less immunosuppression
  • Better short and long term survival of the kidney
  • Better short and long term survival of the patient


  • Of 46,164 patients added to the deceased donor transplant waiting list over a 6 year period, only 23,275 actually received a transplant (Wolfe et al. NEJM 1999, 341:1725)
  • Therefore, if you do not have a living donor, your chance of getting a transplant is only 50%

Concerns about Receiving a Living Donor Kidney

"I can't accept a kidney from one of my children. What if one of my grandchildren needs a kidney someday?"

Most kidney diseases do not run in families. Anyway, who knows what treatments options will be available in years to come? We must make decisions based on the way things are today.

"I'm too old to take their kidney."

Transplantation extends life for patients of all age groups. Older patients statistically gain the most by receiving a kidney from a living donor.

"What if I mess up the transplant kidney, too?"

Very few kidney diseases recur in transplant kidneys. As long as you take your medications, rejection is uncommon. 99% of kidneys from living donors work and the average kidney lasts more than 13 years.

"I don't want to disrupt my donor's health and lifestyle."

Most donors spend 3 or 4 days in the hospital and are back to work in 4-8 weeks. The biggest advantage of laparoscopic surgery is that the donor recovers much faster than in traditional donor surgery. There are no long term health problems associated with kidney donation.

"My donor will not be able to work or get life insurance."

Living kidney donation is not a barrier to either employment or insurance.

Tips on How to Look for a Living Donor

We know it may be difficult to ask family and friends if they are interested in donating a kidney to you. Here are some suggestions to help you with your search:

  • If anyone offers to give a kidney, thank them and tell them how to contact the transplant program.
  • Bring family or friends to your transplant evaluation and re-evaluation appointments.
  • Recruit an advocate who can talk to people for you about donating a kidney.
  • Tell your family and friends the truth about your health problems and expected survival without a transplant.
  • Spread the word at work (perhaps through Human Resources) and your church.
  • If someone is uncertain about kidney donation, let us know and we can put them in contact with someone who has already donated.
  • Give out the Donor Request Card.
  • Let us decide if someone is healthy enough to be a donor.\
  • Do not rule someone out if they have the wrong blood type. We can sometimes arrange a living donor kidney swap.
  • Keep your options open. Someone may offer to donate when you least expect it.

For more information, visit Maine Medical Center's Maine Transplant Program.


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