Becoming a living kidney donor at Tulane Medical Center is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.

Volunteering to be a living donor is a generous act. The transplant waiting list continues to grow, outpacing the available organs from deceased donors. Donating a kidney is a major decision, and no one should feel pressured into acting as a living donor. Potential donors should be sure to carefully consider their decision.

What indicates a good match?

The most successful matches come from immediate family members since they share many similar genes. However, matches are possible from extended family, friends, coworkers, and even altruistic donors. The success rate of living kidney donor kidneys, no matter what the relationship, is significantly greater than those from deceased donors.

Who pays for the living donor’s tests and surgery?

The recipient’s insurance will pay for the workup process, surgery and post-surgery clinic visits. Donors are responsible for their own transportation, lodging and any lost wages. Tulane’s transplant navigators are available to answer any questions related to expenses and potential financial resources.

What is the next step after a successful match?

One of our transplant coordinators will schedule a surgery date that is convenient for you. Usually, a donor will be seen a few days before surgery for final evaluations and tests to ensure that his or her kidneys are functioning correctly.

How is laparoscopic nephrectomy different from the traditional kidney donation operation?

A laparoscopic nephrectomy is a less invasive surgical procedure used for living kidney donation. Donors are usually up a few hours after surgery and return to normal activities within two-to-three weeks. Other advantages of this less invasive procedure include fewer complications, a shorter hospital stay, less pain and better cosmetic results. However, if a traditional open-nephrectomy surgery is necessary; our surgeons have an extensive background in these procedures as well.

What can donors expect before and after the operation?

The donor is taken to the operating room where a general anesthetic is used throughout the surgery. Immediately afterward, the removed kidney is taken into another operating room to be transplanted in the recipient. Often, the kidney begins to function in the recipient before the donor is in the recovery room. The donor procedure usually lasts about three-to-four hours.

What happens during the recovery time?

Recovery can be different for each patient. The donor is usually hospitalized for three-to-five days. Donors typically return to work four weeks after the surgery. All heavy lifting and strenuous activity should be avoided for about four weeks.

Becoming an Organ Donor

Transplantation would be impossible without the generous gift of life given by organ donors each day. There remains a tremendous shortage of organs as thousands of people wait – and die – on the list for a possible transplant. One donor can save the lives of up to nine people. To learn more about organ donation and becoming a donor in Louisiana, please refer to the following links:

  • LOPA-Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency is a local, federally-designated organ procurement organization responsible for facilitating the organ donors in Louisiana. Their educational and outreach programs have led to increased organ awareness.
  • One Legacy is a local, not-for-profit organization which is entirely focused on education and outreach to increase organ donor awareness.