Unveiling the Basics: Top 5 Questions and Answers About Living Kidney Donation

Living kidney donation is a remarkable act of generosity that can transform lives. If you’re considering becoming a living kidney donor or simply curious about the process, here are the top 5 questions and answers to guide you through this life-changing journey.

  1. Q: What does living kidney donation involve? A: Living kidney donation is a surgical procedure where a healthy individual voluntarily donates one of their kidneys to someone in need. The surgery is typically minimally invasive, and donors can lead a normal, healthy life with one kidney.
  2. Q: Who can be a living kidney donor? A: Generally, individuals in good health between the ages of 18 and 65 can be potential donors. Extensive medical and psychological evaluations are conducted to ensure the safety and compatibility of the donor and recipient. Conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and certain infectious diseases may affect eligibility.
  3. Q: What are the risks and long-term effects for living kidney donors?A: The risks of living kidney donation are relatively low, and most donors recover well after surgery. Long-term studies have shown that living with one kidney does not significantly impact overall health. However, like any surgery, there are potential risks, including infection, bleeding, and rare complications.
  4. Q: How does the matching process work between donors and recipients?A: The matching process involves compatibility testing between the donor and recipient, including blood type, tissue matching, and crossmatching. Paired exchange programs allow incompatible donor-recipient pairs to find matches with other pairs.
  5. Q: Can living kidney donors live a normal, healthy life post-donation? A: Yes, most living kidney donors lead normal, healthy lives after donation. Extensive follow-up care is provided to ensure the well-being of donors. Studies have shown that kidney donation does not increase the risk of kidney disease, and donors can participate in regular activities, including sports and exercise.


Living kidney donation is a selfless act that can bring hope and renewal to those in need. If you’re considering this path, consult with medical professionals, thoroughly educate yourself, and engage in open conversations with your healthcare team. Remember, knowledge is power, and your decision can make a significant impact on someone’s life.


If you would like to know if you are healthy enough to be a living kidney donor,

go to www.MyKDC.org


  1. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.optn.transplant.hrsa.gov
  2. National Kidney Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.kidney.org
  3. Locke, J. E., et al. (2019). Long-term outcomes after live kidney donation: A KDOQI systematic review. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 73(1), 114-135.
  4. Leishman, R., et al. (2016). The Evolution of the Kidney Paired Donation Program. Transplantation Reviews, 30(4), 236-242.
  5. Muzaale, A. D., et al. (2014). Risk of End-Stage Renal Disease Following Live Kidney Donation. JAMA, 311(6), 579–586.


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 and Family Therapist living with kidney disease.
Together, they co-founded Kidney Donor Conversations in 2018 to provide education about Living Kidney Donation.

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