Giving Life a Second Chance
Through Organ & Tissue Donation

How Does the Donor Program Work?

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Gift of Life Donor Program works with hospitals and families throughout the region to help make transplants possible for thousands of patients.

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What is Living Donation

Although most organ donations take place after the donor has died, some organs and tissues can be donated from living donors. With the transplant waiting list increasing and the shortage of organs for transplant available, patients in dire need of a life saving procedure can be aided through living donation. Living donation allows more patients to be moved off of the waiting list, thus increasing the existing organ supply.

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As a result of the growing need for donors, living donation has increased as an alternative to deceased donation, and more than 6,000 living donations take place each year. Family members, friends, and even anonymous individuals can become living donors if they meet the requirements to donate. A patient on the kidney waiting list waits an average of 5 years. More than 20% of both liver and lung transplant candidates have been waiting for more than 5 years.

Advantages of Living Donation

  • Transplants from family members that have a stronger genetic match between the living donor and transplant recipient decreases the risk of rejection.
  • Living donation allows the procedure to be scheduled at a time that works best for the donor and recipient.
  • Transplant patients who receive a living donor kidney usually see immediate function.

Types of Organs Supplied by Living Donors

  • Kidney (entire organ) - This is the most frequent type of living organ donation. Living individuals can donate one of their two well-functioning kidneys. Although all living kidney donors will experience a decrease in their kidney function, their remaining kidney provides the necessary function needed to remove waste from the body.
  • Liver(segment) - A living donor can donate one of two lobes of their liver. This is possible because liver cells in the remaining lobe of the liver regenerate after the donation until the liver is almost its original size. This re-growth of the liver to near its original size occurs in a short period of time in both the liver donor and liver recipient.
  • Lung (lobe) - Although lung lobes do not regenerate, individuals can donate a lobe of one lung. Living lung donation occurs when two adults giving the right and left lower lobes from each respectively to a recipient. The donor’s lungs must be the right volume and size in order to be a correct match.
  • Intestine (portion) - Although very rare, it is possible to donate a portion of your intestine.
  • Pancreas (portion) - Individuals can also donate a portion of the pancreas.

History of Living Donation

The first successful living donation transplant took place in 1954 between 23-year-old identical twins Ronald and Richard Herrick. Dr. Joseph Murray performed the procedure in Boston,Massachusetts by transplanting a health kidney from Ronald into Richard, who had chronic kidney failure.

Richard, the recipient, went on to lead an active life until his death eight years later from causes unrelated to the transplant. His living donor brother Ronald lived a full life until his death in 2010, 56 years after the surgery took place.

Find Related Info
Kidney Transplant, Kidney Transplant, Living Donor, Classroom Resources, Donor Registry

Join Team Philadelphia:

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Organ Transplant Resource Map

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Learn about the hospitals in the region where organ transplants are performed or locate a transplant support or volunteer group near you.


Share Your Story

Inspire. Advocate. Share your story...

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Gift of Life works tirelessly to rewrite the stories for the more than 5,600 people in our region waiting for their second chance at life. The gift of organ and tissue donation truly can change someone's life and rewrite their story. How has the Gift of Life rewritten your story? Share with us.


Register for the Donor Dash

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Donor Dash – April 15!

SAVE THE DATE! The 23rd Annual Donor Dash will be SUNDAY, APRIL 15 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Registration is now open.

The 2018 Donor Dash will feature 10K and 5K runs, a 3K walk, and a Kids Fun Run. This special event attracts people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels.

Register today:

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