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Becoming a kidney donor

What are the requirements to donate a kidney?

To be eligible to donate a kidney to Devon, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Blood type: O+ or O-
  • Age: 18-55
  • Location: Based in the US
  • No history of heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes, or cancer
  • Willing to commit to the evaluation process, surgery, and recovery
  • In good health and psychologically sound

How do I find out my blood type?

Here are 3 ways to check your blood type:

  1. Ask your doctor for a "type screen". They'll give you a blood test to determine your blood type.
  2. Take an at-home blood type test. Here's a link on Amazon.
  3. Donate blood. You'll receive a blood donor card, which includes your blood type.

What is the process of donating a kidney?

  1. Interest: Let us know you're interested by submitting this form.
  2. Application: We'll send you details on how to apply to Devon's transplant center.
  3. Screening: A transplant coordinator will schedule an initial phone call with you.
  4. Evaluation: You'll be asked to complete a physical exam, compatibility tests, and other diagnostics to determine if you're eligible to donate. (This can take several months.)
  5. Surgery: If you're a match and ready to move forward, we'll schedule the surgery.

What can I expect from the surgery?

The kidney transplant will be performed laparoscopically, which means they'll use a camera and only make very small incisions. Recovery from laparoscopic surgery is a lot faster than open surgery, and complications are rare. You can expect to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days for observation. Most patients are ready to get back to normal activity quickly after donation.

I live outside of California. Can I still donate?

Yes. As long as you're in the United States, you can complete your testing at a local hospital. The transplant team in San Diego will coordinate with you over the phone. Unfortunately, we’re not able to consider donors outside the United States.

What are the benefits of donating a kidney?

Donating a kidney is an incredible and selfless act, with life-saving benefits for the recipient:

  • Saves the life of the recipient
  • Dramatically improves the recipient's quality of life
  • Extends the recipient's life, on average, by 15-20 years

Kidney donors also have higher quality of life scores after donation, which may be related to an increase in self-esteem and well-being.

Can I live with just one kidney?

Yes. Donating a kidney will not change your life expectancy or increase your risk of kidney failure. You can live a normal life with just one kidney.

How are medical expenses covered?

The donor's medical expenses are covered in full by the recipient's insurance, including:

  • Donor's evaluation, diagnostics, and testing
  • Donor's donation surgery
  • Donor's post-operative care

Travel expenses are usually covered by the donor. If that could be a hardship for you, please let us know — we have a strong support system that is willing to help!

Can I donate if I'm not a blood type match?

Although this is possible, we're currently only looking for compatible O+ or O- donors.

I have another question about becoming a kidney donor.

If you have questions, please email us at kidneyfordevon@gmail.com.

Life in kidney failure

What does it mean to have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)?

Kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the final, permanent stage of chronic kidney disease. When a patient is diagnosed with ESRD, their kidney function has declined to the point the kidneys can no longer function on their own. Fluid and waste will build up in the body with nowhere to go, making the patient extremely sick. Patients typically need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive for more than a few weeks with ESRD.

What do the kidneys do?

The kidneys perform many complex and vital functions that keep the rest of the body in balance. For example, kidneys:

  • Help remove waste and excess fluid
  • Filter the blood, keeping some compounds while removing others
  • Control the production of red blood cells
  • Make vitamins that control growth
  • Release hormones that help regulate blood pressure
  • Help regulate blood pressure, red blood cells, and the amount of certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium and potassium.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is a form of kidney replacement therapy, performed when a patient's kidneys are no longer healthy enough to take care of the body's needs. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Devon has done both, but is currently on peritoneal dialysis.

In hemodialysis, the patient's blood is pumped out of their body and filtered through a large artificial kidney machine. This machine removes toxins and fluid from the blood, then returns the blood to the patient's body. This process takes about 4 hours, requires a nurse, and is usually performed 3 times per week.

In peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is inserted in the patient's abdomen. Dialysis is performed by filling and draining the abdomen with a dextrose-based solution, which absorbs toxins and fluid. This process of filling and draining takes about 10 hours, and is performed at home every day.