More than 3,000 North Carolinians are waiting for a life saving organ transplant, and nearly 90% of those are waiting for a kidney. While we are fortunate to have a robust organ donation registry in our state, the need far exceeds these generous gifts. Living donation is one way for us to address the transplant waiting list and save lives.
This page is a resource for those waiting for a transplant, those interested in being a living donor and for those who just want more information. Please let us know if you have questions not addressed here by emailing your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Living Donation?
Living organ donation is the act of voluntarily giving an organ to another while the donor is still living. In living donation, the goal is to have the least negative impact on the person donating, while also healing another life. Potential donors receive extensive health and emotional screening at no cost to them.
While many organs can be donated through living donation, the most common are kidney and partial liver. Other, less common, organ donations include a lung lobe and intestine section.
Who Can Donate?
Most healthy individuals can be living donors. While it is rare for anyone under 21 or older than 70 to be living donors, there are no age limits on living donation. As always, the health and well-being of the potential donor is considered carefully by a transplant team, so overall mental and physical health and anticipated health outcomes are more important than age. Each case is considered on its own merits.
How Much Does it Cost?
Being a living donor costs the donor nothing in medical expenses, however, all prospective donors must complete their annual or age-appropriate health screenings and preventive medical visits, which are covered by the donor and/or the donor's health insurance. All other medical expenses for screenings, surgery, recovery and follow up visits are covered by the recipient and their health insurance.
Expenses not covered by the recipient can include travel to the transplant center for screenings, and follow up visits, hotel rooms and meals for family members during the screening or hospitalization, or lost wages during recovery. There is some income-based federal assistance to cover these costs. Some transplant programs like the National Kidney Registry will pay all costs for the donor.
The Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation (APKD) was one of the first national organizations devoted to kidney paired donation. APKD is driven by a mission to save lives by securing a living donor kidney transplant for every patient who needs one. APKD provides a generous Donor Protection Program that is not means tested. Details about the DPP are located at paireddonation.org/donor-
Be sure to ask your transplant center if they participate in the Donor Shield program. This program provides extensive support for living donors and covers most out-of-pocket and lost wage expenses.
Where in North Carolina Can I Be a Living Donor or Receive a Transplant?
North Carolina is fortunate to have five transplant centers located across the state. Each of these centers has a living donor program with coordinators who can help you begin the process. Living donors can donate at any hospital, but often find it easier to donate at a hospital closest to them. If you want to donate to a specific individual, find out at which hospital they are listed so you can more efficiently help them. Click on the name of the hospital below for more information.
How Can I Get More Information?
Living donation is a complex topic. Please click on the link below that best captures what information you are seeking to get more specific details.