The myths and truths of living kidney donation

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April is Donor Awareness month, and there's often a lot of confusion about donating a living organ to another person in need.

Andrea and Kelly from the Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center debunk some myths about living kidney donation.

Myth 1: If my blood type doesn't match my recipient, then I cannot be a donor.

There are programs for paired and non-directed donation, so anybody can be a donor to anyone.

Myth 2: Being a match is rare if you are not blood related to the recipient.

Over half of Mercy Health's donors are not blood related to their recipient, giving many people an opportunity to save a life.

Myth 3: Living donation is expensive for the donor.

Expenses are covered by the recipient's insurance. There may be non-medical costs like travel and lodging, but there are programs to help with those costs if the donor qualifies.

Myth 4: I would have to live locally to donate.

Mercy Health often has out of state donors or donors who live far away.  Most testing can be done in the donor's home area, but donors will need to travel to the Transplant Center twice, for evaluation and for surgery.

Myth 5: I will be at risk for kidney failure in the future if I donate.

Mercy Health does a thorough evaluation to determine whether the donor would already be at increased risk for donation. Donors are typically very healthy people who maintain a healthy lifestyle. The nephrologist will talk to them about specific risk for end stage renal disease when meeting with the doctor.

Myth 6: My recipient will know my health history and test results throughout the evaluation process.

Mercy Health keeps the donor testing and evaluation completely confidential.  It is the donor's choice when and if they want to share that information with the recipient. There are many different types of family dynamics that happen surrounding transplant and donation.  There is a Living Donor Advocate and Social worker on the transplant team to help work through these dynamics and to support the donor.

Myth 7: I'll have a long hospital stay and a difficult recovery.

Donors are typically healthy people who may never have had a major surgery.  Recipients, on the other hand, have typically felt ill for many years and feel better after surgery.  A typical hospital stay is three days with 3-6 weeks of recovery time depending on the type of work the donor is returning to. Donors are often eligible for short term disability if they have that benefit through their employer.

For more information about the Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center visit

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1 Comment

  • Giftoflife

    Great article! Yes, living donors in general are very healthy and stay very healthy. My living donor, Sally Reif did the Tough Mudder a few years after donating her kidney to save my life!