Living Donor Kidney Transplants
The wait for a deceased donor kidney can be up to 10 years. Living kidney donations can help change the quality of life of a family member, friend or even a stranger. A living donor kidney offers patients an excellent alternative to a long waiting time for a kidney.
Often, a patient may have a friend or relative who is willing to donate one of their kidneys, but that person may not be an ideal match because the potential donor and recipient's blood types are not compatible. Although we are frequently able to execute incompatible blood type transplants, another option available to patients at Cedars-Sinai is a process called paired exchange.
Who Can Become a Kidney Donor?
Living kidney donation can help change the quality of life of a family member, friend or even a stranger. But not everyone is a good candidate for becoming a kidney donor. In addition to being willing to donate, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have voluntarily chosen to be an organ donor and not be receiving any financial compensation
- Be free from kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes or cancer
- Not have uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Have a body mass index (BMI) below 35
- Be able to take off the necessary time for pre-surgery testing, surgery and recovery
- Have a strong support system
What is Paired Exchange?
In a paired exchange transplant, each living donor gives a kidney to a recipient who also has an incompatible donor. This allows for each recipient to get the kidney that is most compatible.
At Cedars-Sinai, we work with the National Kidney Registry (NKR) and other national agencies to organize successful paired exchange donations. We register our incompatible donor and recipient pairs so they can be matched with other pairs anywhere in the country. Once a paired exchange is confirmed, Cedars-Sinai works with the other transplant centers involved to schedule the surgeries.
Advances in technology allow us to swap kidneys with other centers all over the U.S. The kidneys are kept cold for transport, but the function remains as good as if we had transplanted the organ immediately.
The Benefits of Paired Exchange
The biggest advantage of participating in a paired exchange is that it can significantly shorten the amount of time you spend waiting for a kidney transplant. That means less time on dialysis and more time living a healthier life.
Some donors are initially put off by the idea of donating a kidney to a stranger instead of to their loved one. But donating as part of a paired exchange is a very rewarding experience. When all parts of the exchange are complete, the donor will have helped ensure that at least two patients receive successful kidney transplants.