Living Donation Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can be a living donor?

A: Living donors can be anyone – family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church members, even a total stranger. A living donor does not need to be a blood relative.

Q: How old do donors need to be?

A: At Hartford Hospital, we require donors to be 18 years of age or older. Our program has no upper age limit to donation.

Q: How do I find out if I’m a match?

A: A simple blood test will be conducted to determine compatibility. However, compatibility is no longer a barrier to transplant. Hartford Hospital participates with two different national kidney exchange programs. Through these programs we facilitate a swap so that your donation still results in a transplant for a recipient.

Q: How much does it cost the donor?

A: The donor transplant evaluation, surgery, and follow-up are at no cost to the donor. We do require that donors to be up-to-date on routine health maintenance costs and these would be the responsibility of the donor. It is important to know that it is illegal to offer financial compensation in exchange for kidney donation. Donors are permitted to accept assistance to cover the cost of living expenses that are affected by donation.

Q: What is the evaluation process?

A: After completing an intake interview, some initial bloodwork and urine tests will be completed. If results are acceptable, donors are brought in for a one-day evaluation. All evaluations are individualized based on the donor’s results and medical history. After the evaluation is complete, each donor will have their case presented and reviewed by our Multidisciplinary Committee.

Q: What about the hospital stay and recovery?

A: Donors stay in the hospital, on average, 1-2 nights. Recovery time is different for each individual. Most donors feel significantly better within 2 weeks of surgery and are back to normal activities by 3-4 weeks.

Q: What are the restrictions during recovery?

A: Donors cannot do any heavy lifting (greater than 10 lbs) for 6 weeks. Light activity such as walking is strongly encouraged during the recovery phase.

Q: What type of follow up is required?

A: We see patients 2 weeks, 6 months, 12 months and 24 months after surgery.

Q: My donor doesn’t live anywhere near the transplant center, can they still donate?

A: Absolutely. We can set up initial testing remotely. Initial evaluation can be performed via telemedicine if the donor cannot travel to Hartford. There is a charitable organization we utilize that provides need based travel assistance to donors. Donors that reside in other countries will need to obtain a visa and be able to travel here for an extended period of time.

Q: What happens if a donor’s remaining kidney fails?

A: This is extremely rare but can happen. Luckily, if a donor develops kidney disease in their remaining kidney, they receive priority on the wait list for a deceased organ. 

Q: Are there any lifestyle restrictions after donation?

A: Donation should not affect one’s lifestyle.  We advise donors to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Otherwise we encourage a healthy lifestyle (balanced diet, regular exercise, routine health maintenance, and drinking plenty of water).

Q: I am unable to donate, but I still want to help my loved one, what can I do?

A: Hartford Hospital is proud to offer our Living Donor Champion Program. Through this highly successful and popular program we empower people with the knowledge and tools they need to find their loved one a living kidney donor. To date, we are thrilled to report that 95% of people who have entered the Donor Champion Program have had a potential donor contact us to begin an evaluation.

You can make a difference. Become a Living Donor.

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