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What Is Paired Donation?

Paired kidney donation programs bring together donors and recipients with matching blood types. Paired donation programs help donors and recipients who do not share matching blood types find someone who does.

How Do Paired Donation Programs Work?

All paired donations include two or more pairs of donors and recipients. For example, two kidney recipients will “trade” donors so both of them can receive a kidney that matches their blood type. Paired donation programs give donors and recipients better match options with other recipients and donors in the program.

During a paired donation, a donor will donate their kidney, often to a recipient they don’t know. In exchange, the program provides a matching (or compatible) kidney for the donor’s intended recipient. Donors and recipients usually join paired donation programs to find a better donor match.


In the chart above, the first pair, a mother and her daughter, are incompatible. This means they don’t have matching blood types. The second pair, two brothers, also don’t have matching blood types. In this exchange, the daughter (Elizabeth) donates to the brother (Paul) in the second pair. The other brother (John) donates to the mother (Mary) in the first pair.

After all donors and recipients have been matched, the transplant team can then schedule the kidney transplant surgeries.

Non-Directed Donation

Non-directed donation is when a donor donates to a recipient who needs a kidney. This type of donor is also called a "Good Samaritan donor" because rather than donating a kidney to a family member or close friend, the donor usually does not know the person they are donating to.

University of Utah Health's Kidney Transplant Program has developed a paired donation program in cooperation with local and national registries. Our paired donation program allows recipient-donor pairs to exchange kidneys with other pairs.

If you are interested in being a paired or non-directed donor, please contact our living donor coordinator at 801-585-3202 regarding the paired donation program.

If you would like to know more information about the paired donation program, please visit UNOS Paired Donation

Resources for Our Patients

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.

View the Financial Toolkit

Independent Living Donor Advocate (ILDA)

During the entire evaluation process, the independent living donor advocate (ILDA) is available to help make sure your rights as a donor are protected.

Meet the Independent Living Donor Advocate

To Start the Living Kidney Screening Process

Begin your journey towards becoming a living kidney donor.

Start the Process

What to Expect: Living Kidney Donation

Find out what to expect throughout the process of becoming a living kidney donor.

Read the Guide

Meet Our Patients & Donors

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