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Living Kidney Donation
In the Gift of Life Donor Program service area, there are 5,338 patients on the kidney transplant waiting list. The average waiting time for a deceased kidney donation is 5 years, during which time the patient is often reliant on dialysis. Living donation allows more patients to be moved off the waiting list, increasing the existing organ supply. In 2013, 6,657 kidney transplant candidates died while on the waiting list. Over 1,100 people have donated kidneys anonymously over the past 20 years and every year for the past 10 years more than 6,000 living kidney donors have come forward and given the gift of a lifetime.
Kidney Paired Donation
A kidney exchange or kidney paired donation consists of two kidney donor/recipient pairs whose blood types are not compatible. The two recipients exchange donors so that each recipient can receive a kidney with a compatible blood type. Once the evaluations of all donors and recipients are completed, the two kidney transplant operations are scheduled to occur simultaneously. In some cases, this type of exchange has involved multiple living kidney donor/transplant candidate pairs.
Kidney paired donation, or kidney exchange, is a system that frequently allows the kindness of one person, who has volunteered to donate their kidney, to initiate a chain of transplants allowing more than one person in need to benefit from their precious gift. Kidney Paired Donation Programs may also include non-directed kidney donors who wish to donate to anyone that is currently waiting for a kidney transplant.
Altruistic Kidney Donation
Non-directed kidney donors are living donors who are not related to or known by the recipient, but make their donation purely out of selfless motives. This type of donation is also referred to as anonymous, or altruistic, non-directed living kidney donation. It is up to the individual’s transplant center to determine how the living donor’s kidney will be used. A living donor cannot be paid for the donate organ because it is illegal under the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984. The decision to donate must be voluntary.
By donating to a kidney paired donation program, non-directed donors may be given the opportunity to help two, three or even more transplants occur as a result of their extraordinary gift. Many times, these non-directed donors can initiate kidney donor chains, which have the potential to facilitate many more than one transplant.
Please note that transplant centers cannot accept living organ donors who are pressured to donate in any way and that it is illegal to receive any form of payment or other "valuable consideration" in return for donating an organ in the United States.
In cases where the organ recipient is known to the potential donor, the recipient's insurance pays for the donor's evaluation testing to make sure they are in the best possible health and able to proceed with the donation procedure. If you do not have a known recipient and are donating altruistically, your own insurance will probably deny paying for any evaluation testing, but most of the local transplant centers will cover your evaluation testing costs.
For additional information, visit the UNOS website for an entire listing of UNOS approved kidney transplant. The kidney transplant centers located within the Gift of Life Donor Program service area can be viewed through direct links available at our website.
Lodging and Support
Thousands of patients come to Philadelphia hospitals every year needing life-saving organ transplants. Family House will provide critically needed support programs and temporary lodging for organ transplant patients and their families.
National Donor Sabbath, observed annually in November, seeks to educate faith-based communities about the need for organ, eye and tissue donors. Order free materials to celebrate National Donor Sabbath, taking place Nov. 13-15!