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Being a living donor

Can I be a donor?

If you’re thinking about donating, you will go through a full medical exam. Living donors must be at least 18 years old, mentally able to make a good decision, and in good health. Different transplant centers have different limits on who can donate. To donate, you can’t have:

  • High blood pressure that can’t be lowered with medicine
  • Diabetes
  • Active cancer
  • Kidney or heart disease
  • Acute infection with symptoms
  • Mental illness that still needs to be treated

Medical tests

  • Physical exam
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart and lung function tests
  • Kidney function
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood and urine tests
  • HIV screening
  • Pregnancy test
  • Cancer screening
    • Pap smear and mammogram (women)
    • Colonoscopy (people over age 50)

Emotional and social interview

This mental health interview with a mental health professional provides emotional support and a space for you to express your feelings about donation and transplant. You may discuss:

  • Your job, health insurance, living arrangements, and social support
  • Your reasons for donating
  • Your relationship with the transplant patient
  • If there is any social pressure to donate
  • The transplant process, risks, and life after surgery
  • Past use of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs

All of the tests and interviews are outpatient and can be scheduled when it works best for you. The tests and interviews help doctors know that donation is safe for you to donate, and that the kidney transplant is likely to work.

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