How can I become a living kidney or liver donor?

Currently, more than 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for kidney or liver transplants, but only about 21,000 kidney and 8,200 liver transplants occur each year throughout the U.S. As a result of the shortage of organs, more than 4,800 people die each year awaiting a lifesaving kidney or liver transplant.

One way to bridge the shortage of organs is for patients to receive living donor transplants. There are several advantages to living donation, such as better organ quality, increased survival, decreased time on the waitlist and a scheduled surgery.

The first step in becoming a potential living donor is to contact the living donor office at the University of Virginia Health System’s Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center. Overall, potential living donors must be in good health and older than 18. Our first commitment is to the health and safety of the donor and potential recipient.

At UVa, we have an experienced staff dedicated to the care of living donors. Our team members will ask potential donors a series of health questions and provide education on the donor evaluation process. We carefully screen all potential donors to ensure they are physically and psychologically healthy and understand the risks and benefits of living organ donation.

We continue to transform the process to make it as safe and simple as possible. At UVa, we offer a variety of innovative approaches to living donations, such as laparoscopic, robotic-assisted procedures for donors and recipients to reduce the invasive nature of traditional surgical approaches. These innovations allow for expanded access to transplantation to those who previously may not have been candidates — specifically, patients with a higher body mass index (a body fat measurement based on height and weight) who may have been turned down at other transplant centers.

If you are interested in becoming a living kidney or living liver donor, call the UVa Transplant Center at (800) 543-8814 or (434) 924-8604 and ask for the living donor office. In addition, we have an online screening form that can be completed at any time at uvahealth.com/livingdonation.

Dr. José Oberholzer is the Strickler Family Professor of Transplant Surgery and Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center at UVa Health System.

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