Want to Donate Your Kidney, But Not a Match?

There was a previous post about Your Secret Kidney Donor List that asked you to consider who you might donate your kidney to while you are alive. As you consider who you might donate to, also consider how you might donate. There are 4 basic ways to be a living kidney donor


  • Directed
  • Paired Exchange (discussing in this blog)
  • Non-directed
  • Advanced

If you chose a specific person to give your kidney to, that is a Directed Donation. But what if you are not “a match”? That means your blood is not matching enough with the person you want to give your kidney to. Many people stop the process of donating without considering other options.

There Are Other Options if You Are Not A Match!

It works like this. You and the person you want to give your kidney to, but do not match, are called a “Pair.” You two are not alone. There are other “pairs” of people like you, made up of others who need a kidney and those who want to give a kidney, but they don’t match each other. 

Paired Exchange

All of the “pairs” are put together in a computer program. Then the computer finds someone you match to donate your kidney to. And the other person in your “pair” is matched with someone who wants to donate their kidney. Both of you are matched!

You give a kidney and your person gets a kidney! This is called “Paired Exchange.” You may also hear this called a Kidney Swap.

Consider This!

If you are not a match with the person you want to give a kidney to, tell your transplant hospital that you still want to donate through a Paired Exchange program. You can still help your person who needs a kidney; it’s just a little different than if you directly “match” with them.




Would you like more information about Living Kidney Donation, contact us at info@MyKDC.org


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Glenna Frey, APRN-CNS, is a nephrology nurse who donated her kidney in April 2017 to a stranger.
Amanda Frey, M.A., LMFT, LPC, is a Marriage & Family Therapist living with kidney disease.
Together, they co-founded Kidney Donor Conversations in 2018 to provide education about Living Kidney Donation.