Living Donor Kidney Program

Emory Transplant Center has a well-established living donor kidney transplant program. To date, we have performed more than 1,300 living donor kidney transplants. We encourage living donation because of the excellent outcomes and the shorter wait times for patients to receive a kidney.

Emory Transplant Center also offers a paired exchange program to donor and recipient pairs who do not match. We work with the National Kidney Registry to locate matching kidneys and exchange with other recipients who have donors who do not match with them.

Why Kidney Living Donation

With today’s medical advances, a living or a deceased person can donate a kidney. While people typically have two kidneys, only one is required for a normal, healthy life. The generous act of donating a kidney can be an incredible and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Emory encourages living donor transplants for the following reasons:

  • While most kidneys from deceased donors function well, a kidney from a living donor provides the greatest chance for long-term success.
  • Because patients who receive a kidney from a living donor do not need to wait for a kidney from a deceased organ donor, they can undergo transplantation earlier. Early transplantation improves the survival of the transplanted kidney.
  • Kidneys from living donors have an excellent chance of immediately regaining function after transplantation.

How to Become a Kidney Donor

The following information is provided to help you understand how to become a kidney donor. 

Donor Registration

If you would like to become a living kidney donor, the first step in the process is to register as a potential kidney donor. Click on the link below and follow the prompts to begin registration.

https://emory.donorscreen.org

The website found at the link above is hosted by the National Kidney Registry (NKR). The NKR, on behalf of the Emory Transplant Center, completes the first steps of the screening process. These steps include completing the donor screening questionnaire and some of the initial lab work.

After completing the donor health history questionnaire, if you are eligible to continue in the process, you will receive an email from Emory Donor Screen outlining your next step for initial lab work. Please make sure you read all instructions completely and reply to the emails you receive promptly. Once your initial labs are completed, NKR will transfer your record and your lab results to the Emory Transplant Living Donor team to begin the medical evaluation process.

If you have submitted your lab tests and do not hear from the Emory Transplant Living Donor team within 2 weeks, please call us at 855-366-7989.

Screening/Blood Testing

Screening tests include a 24 hour urine collection, tests for kidney function and diabetes, and your blood type will be identified to see if you are able to donate directly to your intended recipient.

If a donor lives out of state and does not wish to initially come to Emory, we will arrange blood work and pre-evaluation testing to be completed at a remote lab location.

Recipient

Donor

A

A or O

B

B or O

AB

A, B, AB, or O

O

O

With the blood type identification test, a second test must be performed called the crossmatch. This test determines if your recipient may have antibodies or sensitivities to you. If the crossmatch test result is positive, this signifies the recipient has the ability to attack the donor's cells and the transplanted kidney. Therefore the donor would not be able to donate to their recipient. However, a negative crossmatch result signifies the recipient does not have antibodies against the donor's kidney and he/she could be a potential donor.

This test takes approximately 4-6 weeks for the results to be completed. Your screening blood and 24 hour urine tests will be completed before the crossmatch results are available. Your coordinator will present your test results at the Living Donor Patient Conference. After the conference, a coordinator will notify you of the result.

Many times multiple donors come forward for the same recipient have blood testing performed for one recipient. Emory’s policy provides for the screening of up to 10 potential donors per recipient at a time. If a suitable donor is not found in the first group of 10, we will continue screening patients in the order they registered.

It is against federal law to release information to the recipient about who or how many donors were tested. Donation is a confidential process; it is against federal law to share personal health information (PHI). Your transplant coordinator cannot share any information about your process with your intended recipient or any other individual who may ask. The Emory transplant team will evaluate each potential donor very carefully.

Resources for Kidney Donors

  • Georgia Transplant Foundation: a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and resources to help both kidney recipients and living donors.
  • National Living Donor Assistance Program: the goal of the Living Donor Assistance Program is to help living donors deal with financial hardships created as a result of their donation.
  • National Kidney Registry: Emory is one of over eighty member transplant centers in the National Kidney Registry (NKR). We enroll incompatible pairs (donor and recipient), compatible pairs (may match but have a wide age range) and non-designated donors who would like to start a chain and facilitate a number of people being transplanted. The NKR organizes swaps or chains that may have pairs included from both sides of the United States. Each donor is operated on at his/her transplant center, only the kidney travels.

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 855-366-7989. We look forward to hearing from you.