Living Kidney Donation

Donating a kidney to someone is a significant gift, and the decision must be entered into with a full understanding of the living kidney donation process.

Our Capabilities

The Kidney Transplant Program at UC Health, in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, performed the first adult kidney transplant in 1967. This transplant procedure was a living kidney donor transplant, and the donated kidney functioned for 32 years.

Compassionate Healing Starts Here

Click below to learn more about where you can find compassionate care.

Living organ donations can help save a life. Our innovative and leading-edge program provides personalized care to our patients in all phases of transplant.

For more information or to schedule an appointment call 513-584-8313.

Help Along the Way

Answers to Your Living Kidney Donation Questions

The number of kidney disease patients waiting for a deceased donor kidney continues to increase in the U.S., which results in a waiting time of several years for most patients. However, the waiting time can virtually be eliminated by a living donor kidney transplant.

Living-related donors. Donors are healthy blood relatives of the patient requiring a transplant. The donor can be a:

  • Family members such as a twin, sibling or parent.
  • Child over 18 years of age.
  • Other blood relatives (half-sisters, half-brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins).

Living unrelated or emotionally-related donors. Donors are not blood relatives and usually do not share tissue similarities with the recipient. The donor can be a:

  • Spouse/significant other.
  • In-law.
  • Close friend.
  • Adoptive parent.
  • Adopted child (over the age of 18).
  • Close to 96% of living donor kidneys are functioning at the end of the first year.
  • Living donor transplantation offers better long-term success than kidney transplants from patients who have died.
  • On average, a living donor transplant lasts 20 years.
  • Increased odds of immediate kidney function.
  • Rejections are less common.
  • Fewer medications are needed to prevent rejection.
  • Avoidance of dialysis before transplantation in some patients.
  • Immunosuppression can be started prior to the transplant.
  • Long waiting periods that can occur with deceased donor transplants are eliminated.
  • Surgery can be scheduled when the recipient is in optimal medical condition.
  • Experiences less discomfort following the procedure.
  • May have a shortened length of hospital stay.
  • May return to previous activity level earlier.

A thorough medical evaluation of the potential donor is always performed to minimize any potential risks. The usual risks of surgery—blood clots, infection and pain—are infrequent because of the donor’s good health.

After donation, a healthy person can lead a normal life with only one kidney. The life expectancy and general health of the living donor are not significantly affected by donating a kidney. The risk of the donor developing kidney failure is no different than if he or she had never donated a kidney. Kidney donation does not affect an individual’s ability to have children—female donors can also experience a normal pregnancy and childbirth.

Step 1: You have a genuine willingness to donate.

Step 2: Call UC Health Kidney Transplant at 513-584-7001 to let us know you are interested in donating a kidney to your loved one or friend.

Step 3: Complete the donor questionnaire. Basic information about

your health status will be requested at this time to determine if you are healthy enough to be tested as a donor. If this initial screening is passed successfully, plans will be made to test your blood.

Step 4: We test your blood to determine if you are compatible.

Step 5: Your transplant nurse or doctor will call you and discuss the results. It may take as much as two to three weeks to obtain the blood test results.

Step 6: If you are a suitable donor, and if you are willing to proceed, arrangements are made for your medical evaluation.

Step 7: The transplant team will arrange an appointment at the transplant clinic for your medical evaluation. If you live out of town, the transplant nurse will try to arrange a workup at the nearest transplant center or your family doctor’s office.

Step 8: Informed consent to evaluate for living kidney donation will be obtained.

Step 9: Your completed tests and reports are reviewed by the transplant physicians and nurses.

Step 10: Any necessary additional testing will be arranged by the transplant nurse.

Step 11: Your transplant nurse will schedule these tests. The final X-ray is called a CT angiogram. It is the same as a CT, but looks specifically at the blood vessels of your kidney. The findings will help the surgeons determine if the kidney can be removed laparoscopically.

Step 12: If your tests are satisfactory, the transplant is scheduled.

Step 13: The transplant team will schedule a date with you after surgery. If you would like to talk to someone who has been a living donor, the transplant nurse will be happy to provide you with the name of a contact person with whom you can discuss the donation process.

  • Potential donors must have a compatible blood type with the recipient (with kidney exchange, this may not apply).
  • Must have excellent medical health with perfect kidney function.
  • Must be willing to donate a kidney.

The evaluation of the living donor includes a medical history and physical exam, as well as tests for kidney function (blood and urine tests), liver function, cholesterol, hepatitis, HIV and other viral antibody tests. Within a few months after the removal of one kidney, the remaining kidney enlarges and increases its function by around 25%.

The life expectancy and general health of the living donor are not affected by the donation of one kidney. Therefore, life insurance premiums are not altered by kidney donation.

Most costs for the living donor are covered by the recipient’s insurance coverage. However, this may vary with individual insurance payors. If you have questions about payment, one of our financial counselors will be happy to assist you. The donor advocate will discuss your eligibility to receive funding from the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC).

Why UC Health

Experience and Expertise

Pioneers in Organ Transplantation

UC Health offers more than 50 years of kidney transplant experience, multi-faceted, state-of-the-art care and treatment.

National Expertise

Our elite transplant program has some of the nation’s largest transplant volumes while focusing on innovation, clinical care and leading research programs.

Exceptional Patient Outcomes

Patient outcomes for kidney, liver and pancreas transplants at UC Health are consistently at or above the national average.

Faster Wait Times for Patients

On average, our patients are transplanted faster than many other transplant centers, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

How You Can Help

Saving A Life Starts With Organ Donation.

Living organ donors are responsible for giving new life to thousands of patients every year, and people who direct their organs to donation after death are responsible for thousands more. Are you ready to give the gift of life?

Contact Us

At UC Health, we lead the region in scientific discoveries and embrace a spirit of purpose – offering our patients and their families something beyond everyday healthcare. At UC Health, we offer hope.