Becoming a Kidney Donor

At Beaumont, we recognize and honor living donors for their ultimate act of giving. When you donate a kidney, you give someone a chance to live a healthier, longer life.

The confidential organ donor process begins with a telephone interview to cover your medical history. We will send you a donor booklet, a general consent to treatment form and a donor questionnaire. After you return the questionnaire, a Beaumont transplant nurse coordinator will contact you, and appointments will be made for physician interviews, physical exams and blood tests.

If you do not live in southeast Michigan, the transplant coordinator will help arrange to have the blood drawn where you live. If testing reveals that you would not be an appropriate donor, the person you wish to donate to will have alternative therapy available. Our patients have the option of participating in the Kidney Paired Donation program, commonly known as “kidney swap,” if they have suitable living donors that are incompatible due to blood group or tissue type, increasing the likelihood of benefiting from a living donor transplant.

Donating a kidney should not increase your risk of kidney failure or shorten your life expectancy. Nevertheless, you'll be left with one kidney. If that kidney is injured or develops disease, its function would be at risk.  Donation may also affect your ability to obtain health, disability or life insurance. If you are uncomfortable about donating, you can opt out, and your reason will remain confidential.

Blood Testing

This test determines your blood type. It must be compatible with the recipient's.

Tissue Typing

This blood test reveals how many genetic similarities you and the recipient have. Antigens are important for transplant success. The ideal match is an identical twin. Next best is a living-related, six-antigen match. Overall, despite the match, a kidney from a living donor is significantly better than one from a deceased donor.

Crossmatch

A crossmatch provides information about the risk of immediate, severe rejection if the kidney is transplanted. The recipient's blood is mixed with lymphocytes (white cells) of the donor's blood. There must be no reaction between the two samples for a kidney to be considered for transplant. Overall, despite a zero match, we would proceed with an antigen match kidney, which is successful.

Choosing the Donor

When all interested parties have been tested as possible donors, one will be identified as the kidney donor of choice. If that donor is unable to continue the evaluation, another will be chosen. Many things are considered beyond the initial blood testing. Your nurse coordinator will discuss these with you. Write down any questions you have for the nurse coordinator; now is the time to talk about any issues on your mind. If you don't live in Michigan, your transplant nurse coordinator will make arrangements with the closest transplant facility in your area for all testing except the spiral CAT scan. You'll meet the Beaumont multi-disciplinary transplantation team members, including the transplant surgeon, transplant nephrologist, transplant nurse coordinator, transplant social worker and financial coordinator as well as your Independent Donor Advocate before the surgery date. Your coordinator will give you the details.

Length of Donor Evaluation Phase

The time it takes to complete the tests depends on you and your schedule. Testing is arranged at your convenience, when possible. Because the tests must be performed in a certain sequence, some of them cannot be grouped. Your transplant nurse coordinator will help you coordinate your evaluation and testing, so it is essential that you stay in contact with your nurse coordinator.

Medical Evaluation

To qualify as a potential kidney donor, you must be in good health. During the donor evaluation, each transplant team member will conduct a thorough evaluation process, including a complete health history, physical examination, and assessment of social factors and mental health.  Our transplant team works closely with potential donors to ensure there are no underlying risk factors prior to proceeding with kidney donation.  The transplant team is here to provide the support and resources you need throughout the process as you consider the precious gift of organ donation.

Surgery

There are various surgical approaches for safely performing living-donor kidney removal, including open and laparoscopic approaches.  Our surgical team is highly-experienced in conducting the donor surgery through a minimally-invasive technique, which uses two or three small incisions through which a small camera and other laparoscopic instruments are placed into the abdomen to perform the surgery.  To remove the kidney from the abdominal cavity, a small incision usually less than three or four inches is made. Benefits of the minimally-invasive technique used by our surgeons include reduced blood loss, quicker recovery, a shortened hospital stay, and improved visualization of the donor’s internal anatomy by the surgeon.

After Surgery

Patients go to the recovery room as the anesthesia wears off after the donor operation.  There, vital signs, including heart rate and blood pressure, are closely monitored, and pain medication is administered.  After a short stay in the post-anesthesia recovery room, you will be transferred to the surgical nursing floor.  Laparoscopic procedures usually require a two or three day hospital stay, whereas open procedures can require three to five days. When you are discharged, you should be able to care for yourself with some assistance from family and friends.  Pain should be manageable with oral pain medications taken for one to two weeks. Full healing of your incisions generally takes at least six weeks. Your physician will counsel you on resuming appropriate physical activities and work. You will have the opportunity to discuss preoperative issues in detail with your surgeon.

LIFE AFTER KIDNEY DONATION

For more information or to schedule an appointment

800-253-5592

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