will i be okay with one kidney?

Getting started

Have you though about being an Organ Donor?

Being a Living Donor begins with a phone call.  Federal regulations dictate that any potential Living Donor must contact the transplant hospital:  this means that the desired recipient (in this case Jenny) cannot make contact on behalf of any donor.  Potential donors are pre-screened during this initial phone call to the Living Donor Coordinator.

You can be a Living Donor if you are::

Between 18 - 65

A non-smoker

Have no incidences of cancer

In overall good health

Today being a kidney donor is a lot easier than it used to be.  Surgery is usually done laparoscopically; a small 1 - 2 inch incision is made near the bellybutton and the kidney (about the size of your fist) is carefully extracted.  The surgery takes approximately 3 - 4 hours, and your recover time in the hospital will be between 3 and 5 days.  

You may choose to be an Anonymous or Good Samaritan Donor.  Jenny does not have to know that you are being considered as a candidate by the transplant hospital.  All your medical records will remain confidential between you and the hospital:  the Living Donor Team and the Recipient's Team are separate.  You may also choose to communicate with Jenny and share the progress of your evaluation.

who pays for my testing?

Jenny's health insurance will pay for all your tests, your appointments at Cedars Sinai Hospital, and your surgery.

If you'd like to get any tests done in advance, then your health insurance may cover some of them for free as "wellness" appointments (such as a mammogram).

After the transplant surgery any medical needs you have relating to the surgery will be covered for the rest of your life.

tests?  what kinds of tests?

All possible Living Donors must be checked to make sure they are healthy enough to be a kidney donor.  Each transplant hospital makes a decision about what tests are needed, but here are the standard ones that are required:

Blood TestsChest X-RayEKG
Urine TestColonoscopy (if >50 yrs)Cardio/Stress Test
PapMammogramAbdominal Scan

You can do these tests with your own doctors in your hometown, and then have the results forwarded to the Living Donor Coordinator.  The chest x-ray, EKG, and abdominal scan will be done when you have your appointment to meet your Living Donor Team at the transplant hospital.

the surgery

What happens next?

You've passed the tests and been accepted as a Living Donor!  Congratulations!  Now you can talk to your Living Donor Coordinator about scheduling surgery.  If you are a friend of Jenny's or you've met her, then you can choose to coordinate the surgery date together.  If you are an anonymous donor, then you will decide the date with your Coordinator and Jenny will be notified.

Hundreds of thousands of kidney transplants have been done worldwide.  From this doctors know that people can live a long healthy life with one kidney.

When a person donates a kidney, the remaining kidney will grow bigger after surgery to makeup for the one that has been donated.  The donated kidney will also grow bigger in Jenny's body for the same reason.

Being considered as a Living Donor for any recipient for a kidney transplant is a step-by-step process.  After your phone call to the Living Donor Coordinator you will receive a packet in the mail or by email with a health questionnaire and informational forms.  When you return this packet to the Living Donor Coordinator, it will be reviewed and you will then be notified if you have been cleared for testing.  A range of tests will be ordered to make sure that you are a suitable match as a Living Donor for Jenny, and to ensure that it will be safe for you as well.

Completing the testing phase takes about 3 - 6 months, depending on how you get the tests scheduled.  Inform your doctors about the reason for the test, and then they might expedite your appointment.  You may choose to have your own doctors do the tests, or go to Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles to have them done.  Once all of the test results have been submitted to the Living Donor Coordinator, then the Living Donor Committee will double-check everything, and either approve or disapprove you as a donor.  Approved donors will receive a call from the Living Donor Coordinator to set up an appointment for your evaluation in person at the transplant hospital.  During this appointment you will meet your Living Donor Team, which consists of nurses, doctors, the surgeon, and a social worker.  You'll have the opportunity to ask questions, and learn more about becoming a Living Donor.

The Living Donor Committee will again review all your tests and approve you for the tissue-typing and cross-matching blood tests.  Theses tests measure how well Jenny's body will accept your kidney.  They tell the doctors how Jenny's immune system will react:  the goal is to prevent Jenny's body from rejecting your kidney.

You should contact your Living Donor Coordinator on a regular basis to get updates on your status in the evaluation process.  He will be able to answer your questions.