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Donating a Kidney – How Does it Work?

What type of donor is compatible with Matthew?
To donate a kidney to anyone, you must be in good health and have normal kidney function and anatomy. You'll also need to have the blood type O-Positive or O-Negative.

What's in it for a donor?
Our sincere love and gratitude for saving Matthew's life. It is against the law to give money or gifts in exchange for a kidney. We will, however, pay your travel and lodging expenses, as well as any lost wages for time away from work, and our insurance will pay your medical expenses.

What are the medical procedures before surgery?
Potential donors must undergo a wide range of tests to determine their eligibility, including a full medical history, a battery of blood, urine, EKG, and tissue-typing tests, as well as psychological examinations. In addition, the renal anatomy of all donors is examined to ensure that they are suitable candidates for a laparoscopic nephrectomy—the minimally invasive procedure used by Columbia surgeons to remove the kidney.

What is a Laparoscopic Nephrectomy? What is it like?
Instead of a single, large incision, a laparoscopic nephrectomy typically requires three, half-inch incisions, through which the surgeon inserts surgical instruments and a camera to view the operating field. Once the surgeon has freed up the kidney to be donated, he or she removes it from the patient through a slightly larger incision. The removed kidney is placed in a bag and chilled on ice until it can be implanted in the recipient. Since this technique uses smaller incisions, donors benefit greatly from reduced post-operative pain, speedier recovery times, and less scarring. The operation lasts 3 to 4 hours, and requires general anesthesia.

How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
On average, kidney donors spend two days in the hospital and can return to their normal activities within three weeks.

How will this affect my health?
Once a donor has recuperated from the surgery, they can expect to lead a completely normal life. You will not need to take any special medications, follow any dietary restrictions, or limit your physical activities.

What's the first step?
If, after exploring this site and discussing it with your loved ones, you believe you could be a donor for Matthew, please contact the Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Program of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The program staff will provide you with more detailed information about becoming a living donor and schedule preliminary tests to confirm that you are a match. If you don't live close to New York, they'll help you make other testing arrangements. If you are a match and decide to donate your kidney to Matthew, we'll pay for your trip to New York and all your accommodations. Our insurance will pay for your medical expenses.

Where else can I get more information?
Learn more about living kidney donation at the Columbia Presbyterian's Web site. You can also watch and listen to Matthew's surgeon, Dr. Lloyd Ratner, describe the process of a kidney transplant. He discusses the living donor's experience about 13 minutes into the video. You can fast-forward to the 13-minute-mark by using the scroll bar in RealPlayer, which will play the video for you.

Again, if, after thinking about what you've read here and talking about it with your loved ones, you are interested in donating a kidney to Matthew, please contact Columbia Presbyterian.

Five Things to Remember:

  • We will pay for your travel, any lodging and lost wages for time away from work.
  • Our Insurance will pay your medical expenses.
  • On average, kidney donors spend two days in the hospital.
  • You will have a dedicated medical team, separate from Matthew, to insure your wellbeing.
  • Laparoscopic Nephrectomy is among the safest surgical procedures.