Kidney Transplantation and Dialysis Program

Living Donor Kidney Transplant

For children who need a kidney transplant, there are a number of advantages to having a live (comes from a living person) kidney donation. Primarily, the wait time for the transplant is much shorter. Therefore, surgery can be planned prior to the child becoming too ill.

Receiving a kidney from a live donor also eliminates the time between procurement of the organ and transplantation. If an organ has been outside the donor’s body for too long it might not work as well.

A continued shortage of deceased donor kidneys has led to an increased reliance on living donor transplantation.  

Donor qualifications

If you are considering being a live donor for a young friend or family member who needs a new kidney, you must meet certain qualifications. While you do not need to be related to the recipient, you must:

Factors such as gender and ethnicity are not considered in determining a successful match. However, there are some key considerations in becoming a live kidney donor. Be sure to visit our Live Kidney Donor FAQ page to further your understanding of this commitment.

The above criteria are all part of the initial evaluation, but keep in mind that each case is unique. If you are considering donation, we encourage you to speak with a transplant team member by calling 1-877-ORGAN50(674-2650).

Want to know how to ask someone in your life to be a donor?
Visit our How to Ask Someone to Be a Donor page.

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Living donor evaluation

Potential donors must undergo a thorough evaluation to ensure they can tolerate the procedure and their kidney is appropriate for the recipient. This evaluation is coordinated by and takes place at the Penn Transplant Institute at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Since most living organ donors are adults, CHOP’s partnership with HUP ensures the best care for both donor and recipient. The evaluation includes, but is not limited to:

After the evaluation, the potential donor will have:

Risks of living donation

At the CHOP Transplant Center, a specialized team of surgeons is dedicated to the donor operation and returning the donor to a fully functional and healthy life.

While the incidence of serious complications with living donor kidney transplant is very low, they are possible. Potential serious side effects include bleeding, infection, kidney failure and complications from general anesthesia. Any risks are outlined for the donor before the evaluation.

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Living donor kidney transplantation surgery

The donor operation generally takes six to eight hours, with additional time for anesthesia preparation. When the surgery is complete, the donor remains in the recovery room for observation before being brought to the specialized transplant floor for post-operative care. The donor usually remains in the hospital for three to seven days.

Insurance and costs

The recipient’s insurance usually covers the donor’s evaluation and hospitalization costs, though each insurance plan is different. It is preferable that the donor have insurance of their own for any unrelated health issues that may be discovered during the evaluation. The donor is not responsible for any medical expenses or hospital expenses, but cannot be reimbursed for lost income, transportation costs or personal expenses. All donors and recipients will discuss the financial implications of donation and transplantation with the designated HUP social worker prior to evaluation to have any questions answered.  

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