Living Donation

Living Kidney Donation - Patient Stories

Someone who needs an organ transplant will spend years waiting for one to become available from a deceased donor on the National Organ Transplant registry.

But if a patient has a living donor, the wait time can be just a few months. A living donor transplant is the best option for people with kidney disease. Living donation is now also possible for liver transplants.

We know that becoming a living donor can be scary, but donor safety is always our first priority. The Hartford Hospital Transplant team provides a comprehensive evaluation to ensure our living donors feel comfortable and supported and are healthy enough for surgery. 

Many living donors tell us the experience is rewarding. There is no greater gift one can give than the gift of life.   


What to Expect

No two donor and recipient pairs are alike. We work with you to ensure each patient achieves the best outcome in a safe and fast manner. Our thorough living donor evaluation is designed to meet the unique physical and emotional needs of our donors.

The typical evaluation for living donors includes the following steps:

1. The Initial Referral

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  • Once the packet is completed and received, each donor is scheduled for an intake interview via telephone. A plan will be made for follow-up testing.

2. Compatibility Testing

  • We perform a simple blood test to determine compatibility with a recipient. They are:
    • Blood type
    • Cross-matching
  • If a donor is determined to be incompatible on either of these tests, they will be given the option to participate in paired kidney donation (also known as the swap program). This allows the living donor to still donate to someone in need. These programs use computer databases to match pairs that are difficult to match. Sometimes the result is a simple two way swap, and other times it is a long chain. However, a donor would never be asked to give their kidney without another kidney being available for their recipient. Participation in the program is voluntary. Both donors and recipients will be fully educated on how these programs work and what their commitment would be. Each participant must consent to participate and can change their decision at any time.

3. Lab Tests

  • Complete laboratory testing will be done including fasting bloodwork and infectious disease testing.
  • A 24-hour urine collection will be performed.
  • Additional testing may be ordered based on the results of initial lab testing.

4. Team Evaluation

  • Once the donor has completed all lab testing, they are scheduled for their one-day team evaluation. This includes the following members of our transplant team:
    • Living Donor Transplant Coordinator
    • Independent Living Donor Advocate
    • Social Worker
    • Dietitian
    • Transplant Nephrologist
    • Transplant Surgeon
  • On this day, we will also do a CT scan to review the anatomy of the donor’s kidneys and blood vessels. 
  • Donors over the age of 50 require cardiology evaluation and clearance.
  • We will review routine health maintenance such as:
    • Colonoscopy for donors over age 50
    • Pap smear for all females
    • Mammogram for females over 50
    • Prostate Specific Antigen for males over 50
  • Additional testing or consultations may be ordered at any point at the discretion of the living donor team based on results of donor evaluation.

5. Donor review

  • Once all testing is completed, each donor is presented to our Multidisciplinary Committee to review donor safety. We communicate the results of this meeting to the donor. It is up to the donor if and when they will share these results with the recipient.

6. Pre-Op and Surgery

  • The timing of surgery is determined by the needs of the donor, recipient and transplant team.
  • Both donor and recipient will have pre-operative appointments approximately one week prior to surgery. For the donor, this visit will consist of:
    • Final bloodwork and compatibility testing
    • EKG
    • Chest x-ray
    • Final education and consent
  • Very rarely, results may come up during the pre-operative visit or even the day of surgery that may cause the need to postpone or even cancel surgery. This is very rare, but in that case, the reasons for delay or cancellation will be communicated with the donor.

For more information regarding Living Donor Liver Transplantation, read our Frequently Asked Questions, or contact our Living Donor Coordinators at 833.222.7770.


Living Donor Champion Program

A Living Donor Champion is someone who helps spread the story of a loved one in need of a living kidney donor. The champion helps share their story and raise awareness about kidney disease, transplantation, and living kidney donation. The goal is to find a potential living kidney donor for their loved one.

We are excited to offer education classes for interested champions. The classes take place once a week for three weeks. They provide Living Donor Champions with information so that they are comfortable talking to people about kidney disease, transplantation, living donation and strategies for spreading their loved one’s story, including tips on creating a Facebook page. A monthly support group meeting where champions talk about their successes and brainstorm ideas is also available. Previous Living Donor Champions who have identified a living kidney donor for their loved one will also attend the support group.

If you are interested in becoming a Living Donor Champion, contact our Living Donor Coordinators at 833.222.7770.


Non-Directed Kidney Donation

Non-directed kidney donation refers to a living donor who wishes to donate a kidney, but not necessarily to a loved one. It is to an unknown recipient who will benefit. The Hartford Hospital Transplant team has transplanted hundreds of unrelated living donors, ranging from in-laws, friends, students and co-workers to Good Samaritan donors.

This type of donation is considered center-directed, meaning the potential recipient is identified from our program’s list. Recipients are identified using special guidelines that included:

  • Percent of reactive antibody
  • Time waiting
  • Match
  • Age match

The transplant team discusses the candidates to assure that the best candidate is chosen for the best possible outcome. These type of donors may also consider donating through an exchange program which has the potential for a domino effect of several transplants.

If you are interested in offering a Non-Directed Kidney Donation, contact our Living Donor Coordinators at 833.222.7770.


Living Donor Liver Transplantation

In recent years, living liver donation has also become an option for patients in need of liver transplantation. The evaluation and workup for a living liver donor is similar to that of a living kidney donor. It is comprehensive, and donor safety is our number one priority.

In living donor liver transplantation, a piece of liver is removed from the living donor and transplanted into the recipient. The liver has a unique ability to regenerate itself, which is what makes living donation possible.

In living liver donor surgery, the donor and the recipient are placed in side-by-side operating rooms. A surgeon removes a part of the donor’s liver, typically the right half. This donated segment of the liver is then immediately placed in the recipient in the next operating room. The remaining part of the donor’s liver is sufficient to maintain normal body functions. The recipient also receives a large enough segment of the donor liver to maintain body functions. During approximately the next two months, the remaining and transplanted parts of the donor liver grow to normal size, providing normal long-term liver function for the donor and the recipient.

There are many benefits of receiving a liver from a living donor:

  • No waiting period
  • Surgeries can be scheduled at a convenient time for both the donor and the recipient
  • A liver from a living donor typically lasts longer than a liver from a deceased donor
  • A living liver transplant can be scheduled electively and before the onset of life-threatening complications while waiting for a liver from a deceased donor

For more information regarding Living Donor Liver Transplantation, contact our Living Donor Coordinators at 833.222.7770.


You can make a difference. Become a Living Donor.

For more information, please call one of our Living Donor Coordinators at 833.222.7770.