The Day I Decided to Become a Kidney Living Donor

On August 16, 2018, my right kidney boarded a non-stop flight from Newark to San Francisco. A little over five hours and five thousand miles later, it was doing its new job for a 30-year-old woman whom I had never met.

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Nancy with doctor smiling

According to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people across the United States are listed for a kidney transplant. In the greater Philadelphia region, approximately 4,900 people are waiting for a kidney to become available. As a result of a shortage of organs for transplantation, living donor programs have been created to allow for individuals to donate an organ to someone in need of a transplant.

Live donation occurs when a living person donates an organ to someone in need of a transplant. With the waiting time for a deceased donor kidney transplant in our area averaging at least three to five years, live donor kidney transplant is an important way to increase the number of people receiving kidney transplants.

The Penn Transplant Institute has one of the largest and most experienced living donor transplant programs in the country. In addition to live donor transplant, Penn also offers a paired kidney exchange program. This program is an option for kidney recipient and donor pairs who are not blood and/or tissue-type compatible.

The Benefits of Living Donation

  • Avoidance of dialysis time for the recipient: Live donor kidney transplantation provides the recipient the opportunity to undergo transplant surgery before the challenging routine of dialysis begins. This is known as pre-emptive transplant. Research has shown that less time on dialysis means an increased survival rate of the transplanted kidney.
  • Improved long-term survival: Kidneys from a living donor usually last longer than those from a deceased donor. 
  • Optimized time of surgery: We can schedule the surgery to ensure the best condition of the recipient and a convenient time for the donor. 
  • A faster recovery: Getting a kidney from a live donor eliminates much of the time between procurement of the kidney (when the kidney is outside the body) and transplantation. Reducing the time the kidney is outside the body increases the quality of the organ and decreases the time it takes for the kidney to function properly.
  • Reduced risk of rejection: On average, there is a reduced risk of rejection with a living donor kidney, especially if a blood relative donates the kidney.

In This Section

Treatments and Procedures

Learn about the treatments and procedures associated with a living donor kidney transplant at Penn.

Frequently Asked Questions

Penn answers the most frequently asked questions about living donor kidney transplant.

Patient Stories

Watch videos of patient testimonials and hear about their personal experience at the Penn Transplant Institute.

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