Icon - Living kidney donation

Living kidney donation

There are several terms used to describe the process where a living person donates one of their kidneys for transplantation to another person: ‘live donation’, ‘living-related transplantation’ and ‘live donor nephrectomy’.

A donor is the person giving the kidney. The person getting the kidney is the recipient.

Most living organ donors are blood relatives of a person receiving the transplant, usually a parent, brother or sister. Recent advances in transplant medicine have made it possible for people who are not blood relatives, such as a husband or wife, partner or friend, to donate to a person who needs a transplant.

Living donation can also be non-directed, which means donating one of your kidneys to a stranger. As this is a serious decision, you’ll need to obtain accurate information and discuss this with people such as your family, your doctor and members of a renal transplant team.

Requirements to be a kidney donor

If you wish to become a living kidney donor, you need to be healthy and over the age of 18. Even elderly people and those with chronic health conditions can be donors. Each case is assessed individually. The few medical conditions that prevent organ donation include:

  • cancer
  • diabetes, or being at increased risk of developing diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • infectious disease
  • behaviour that puts you at risk of infectious disease
  • significant lung and heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • obesity
  • psychiatric disorder
  • major abdominal surgery.

If you’re thinking of becoming a live kidney donor, you may find these videos* and fact sheets helpful to make an informed decision. To view, click on any title:

Part 1 - Living Kidney Donation: What you need to know
Part 2 - Living Kidney Donation: What you need to know
Jenny's story on her experience with Live Kidney Donation
*Permission to host these videos has been provided by Queensland Health.

Fact sheets
Deciding to be a live kidney donor
Live Kidney Donation
Non-directed live kidney donation

Useful links
Leave for living organ donors - Commonwealth Department of Health
Information for Living Donors - DonateLife Tissue and Organ Donation Authority

The Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Programme

This scheme, also known as the AKX Programme, is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority to increase the options for living kidney donation. 

The program helps people seeking a kidney transplant whose potential living donor is unsuitable due to blood group and/or tissue incompatibility.

A computer program is used to search the entire available database of registered recipient/donor pairs and look for combinations where the donor in an incompatible pair can be matched to a recipient in another pair.

If a compatible match is established, by exchanging donors two or more simultaneous transplants can occur. This option is known as paired kidney exchange, or paired kidney donation.

Find out more about the Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Program.

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