What It Means to Be a Living Donor

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What if you had the power to save someone’s life — a sibling, parent, child, friend or even a stranger? It turns out we all have the ability to be someone’s hero through living organ donation.

If the idea sounds overwhelming and complex, that’s because it is. Choosing to be a living organ donor is not something that should be taken lightly. It calls for deep reflection about your own physical, mental and spiritual health. Discover what it means to be a living donor, and if it’s a journey that’s right for you.

What is Living Organ Donation?

When most of us think of organ donation, we think of tragic circumstances: A loved one we recently lost who was able to donate organs or tissues to save a life (and in some cases, several lives).

A living donor, on the other hand, is someone who is able to give a certain organ or body tissue — while still alive — to someone in need. Most often, living donations occur between family members or friends, but registries make it possible to donate to a stranger.

What Can Living Donors Donate?

The most frequently donated organ is one of a living individual’s kidneys. It may be surprising to learn, but we only need one kidney to effectively move waste out of the body. Living donors may also donate lobes of their liver or even a part of their lungs. Tissue may also be donated, including:

  • Amnion
  • Blood
  • Bone
  • Bone marrow
  • Skin
  • Umbilical cord blood

What’s the Process for Becoming a Living Donor?

The first step in becoming a living donor is to be tested to see if you’re a match. Tests are simple and include a quick blood draw. Keep in mind that even if you do match with someone in need, you aren’t required to go through with the donation. Every individual is different; it’s important to listen to your heart and body and do what’s best for you.

If you decide to proceed with the donation process, you’ll be asked to visit the facility performing the donation for a variety of tests. Health care providers will work closely with you to discuss everything you can expect throughout the donation and recovery phase. You may also meet with a psychologist to discuss the mental and spiritual impact of becoming a living donor.

A Personal Choice Only You Can Make

For many individuals, the generous act of helping a loved one or stranger through a difficult time is a great source of pride. It can also be a great source of stress. It’s important to talk to your own family and friends about your decision and be sure you have the support you need as you prepare for and recover from a living donation.

Our team is here to help answer your questions and guide you through the journey that’s right for you.

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