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How to ask someone to be your living kidney donor

“When people come to seek a kidney transplant, they look at their options,” says Joshua Wolf, M.D., a transplant nephrologist.

There are two routes an individual can take when pursuing kidney transplantation:

  • Option 1: Deceased donor waiting list. In Georgia, the wait time on this list is three to six years.
  • Option 2: Find a friend, family member or acquaintance who is willing to donate a kidney.

Dr. Wolf says there are three distinct advantages to living kidney donation:

  1. There is no waiting list.
  2. The surgery date can be selected in advance so the donor and recipient can schedule time off work and arrange transportation to and from appointments.
  3. The outcomes are better. Kidneys off the waiting list don’t last as long as kidneys from living donors.

How to start a conversation with a potential donor

If you need a kidney transplant, you may be thinking, “Where do I begin?” Dr. Wolf recommends sharing the following when starting a conversation with a potential donor:

  • If you are on dialysis or are about to go on dialysis.
  • That your physician recommends a living donor kidney for best results.

“At that point, the person you’re talking to is either going to say, ‘Good luck, I hope you find someone,’ or they may start expressing interest and start asking more questions,” he says.

Living kidney donation is safe 

Let them know that living donation is safe:

  • Piedmont performed 75 living donor surgeries in 2013.
  • Most donors can return home a day or two after surgery. 
  • There’s a very low risk of complications.
  • The surgery is minimally-invasive and is now done laparoscopically.
  • The recipient’s insurance covers the evaluation, surgery and post-operative care.

“Within four to six weeks, living donors are back to doing everything they did before they donated a kidney,” says Dr. Wolf. “Living donation is a great option for potential recipients because it definitely allows them to get a kidney faster and the infrastructure we have here at Piedmont will allow for a safe and successful surgery.”

For more information on living kidney donation, visit Piedmont Transplant Institute. Visit Living Better’s Transplant page to hear from real patients who have undergone living kidney donation and transplantation.

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