Did you know that your body can be perfectly healthy with just one kidney?

Each year, over 5,000 people decide to donate one of their kidneys to a recipient in need. A recipient is someone who needs a kidney. In addition, your body doesn't need both kidneys to do an important job—remove waste and keep your metabolism running. For these reasons, living kidney donation is the most common type of living organ donation.

Why Donate a Kidney?

Many more recipients need kidneys than are available. The national transplant waiting list has thousands of people waiting for kidneys, and many people spend years waiting. Living kidney donation increases the chances that a recipient won't die while waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Transplanting kidneys from a living donor is also the best type of kidney donation.

  • Kidneys from living donors last longer.
  • There is a lower chance the recipient's immune system will attack the new kidney (this is called rejection).
  • The recipient will need fewer and lower doses of anti-rejection medication.

Who Donates?

Do you assume that only family members can donate a kidney? In fact, you can donate a kidney to a spouse, close friend, or someone you haven't met before. There are four types of living donations:

  • Living related donation (LRD): The living donor is a blood relative (like a parent, child, or sibling).
  • Living unrelated donation (LURD): The living donor is not a blood relative. These living donors can include spouses, friends, co-workers, or members of the same community.
  • Living non-directed donation (NDD): This is a type of donation where the donor and recipient do not know each other. It's sometimes called an “anonymous” donation.
  • Paired donation: This type of donation matches incompatible donor/recipient pairs with other incompatible donor/recipient pairs. A donor and recipient are incompatible if their blood group and tissue type don't match.

Financial Resources

Are you considering living organ donation but are worried about costs of care? Learn more by reading the American Society of Transplantation's Live Donor Financial Toolkit.


University of Utah

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Salt Lake City, UT 84132
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