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Living donation

Living donation

Living donation is when someone donates one of their healthy kidneys or part of their liver, lung or small bowel to someone else, whilst they are still alive.

Living donation can save the life of someone with organ failure who needs a transplant. The donation could be for a friend or family member, or someone they don’t know.

There are many advantages to live donations and for a kidney recipient this may include:

  • Much shorter waiting time; transplants can take place sooner, when the intended recipient is healthier – which can help them recover faster. A live donor transplant can be organised within months if there is a suitable willing donor.
  • Avoiding dialysis altogether; it is possible to avoid dialysis completely if you have a willing and suitable living donor who can be assessed before to the kidney disease progresses.
  • Recipients who receive a kidney before they have to go onto dialysis generally live longer than those who do not.
  • It also allows the operation to be planned for a time that is convenient for the people giving and receiving the organ and clinical team

Who can be a living donor

Any person, who is healthy and volunteers may be able to donate an organ or part of an organ. Anyone volunteering will be asked to undertake a series of tests. This is so the medical team can be absolutely sure that you are healthy and suitable to donate. Your health and safety is of primary concern and not everyone is suitable so you may be unable to donate.

Age isn’t a problem. In the UK there have been successful living kidney donations from people in their 80’s.

The donor’s health and how closely the organ match to a person waiting for an organ are more important.

If you do volunteer, you can change your mind at any point – right up to the time of surgery.

Become a living donor

People who want to become a living donor will need to speak to the live transplant co-ordinator at their closest Transplant Unit.

In South Wales, you will need to contact:
029 20746 432 or Live.Donor.cav@wales.nhs.uk

In North Wales, you will need to contact:
Living Transplant Coordinator
Renal Transplant Unit
Royal Liverpool University Hospital
Prescot Street
Liverpool
L7 8XP

0151 706 4725

Related links

Frequently asked questions about living donation