Organ Donor Options

Many people with two healthy kidneys can donate one to a patient in need.

While you only have one liver, you can still donate a portion of this organ, which typically grows back to a size that provides normal liver function.

Two police officers walking side-by-side outside a building.
Two police officers walking side-by-side outside a building.

Living Kidney Donor Program

The gift of life is closer than most of us think.

Most transplanted organs come from a family’s selfless organ donation after their loved one has died. Unfortunately, far more people need organ transplants than the number of organs recovered from people who have passed (also known as deceased donation). In fact, at any moment in time, more than 117,000 individuals are waiting for an organ transplant.

Fortunately, some organs, like kidneys, can be donated by a living donor without negatively affecting the donor’s health. The Miami Transplant Institute’s Living Kidney Donor Program—also called the gift that keeps on giving—is the largest in Florida and the fastest-growing in the Southeast. In fact, patients from anywhere in the nation and anywhere in the world can participate in the initiative.

Paired Kidney Exchange Program

Even when a family member or friend’s kidney is not a match, a suitable living donor may still be a viable option. That’s because we can match willing donors for one patient with willing donors for another patient.

Our Paired Kidney Exchange Program is the only initiative of its kind in the region, and offers real hope to patients whose family and friends have the will to help, but are not a clinical match.

Description

Paired Kidney Exchange Program

Even when a family member or friend’s kidney is not a match, a suitable living donor may still be a viable option. That’s because we can match willing donors for one patient with willing donors for another patient.

Our Paired Kidney Exchange Program is the only initiative of its kind in the region, and offers real hope to patients whose family and friends have the will to help, but are not a clinical match.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of living donation?

  • To give the gift of life and provide improvement in quality of life. A successful transplant will end or eliminate the need for the recipient’s dependence on dialysis and help them and their family return to a normal, good quality of life.

Who can be a donor?

  • Any healthy person between the ages of 18-65.
  • Must be mentally and emotionally capable.
  • Compatible blood type, but if not can compatible can participate in the Paired Kidney Exchange Program.

What are the advantages of a living kidney donor transplant versus a deceased donor transplant?

  • A decrease in the current average wait time of 2.5 years (deceased donor wait time fluctuates as compared to living donor surgery that is appropriately scheduled).
  • The transplant can be scheduled to the convenience of the recipient and the donor.
  • The kidney can last almost twice as long as compared to deceased donor transplants.
  • The recipient may be able to avoid dialysis thus leading to better outcomes and minimizing infections and heart problems.
  • Living kidney donation can be rewarding for both donors and recipients and encourages a strong emotional support between the two.

How will kidney donation affect me if I become a donor?

  • After donating one kidney, the other kidney will grow and compensate a little allowing the donor to lead a full, active life.

What is involved in the donor process?

  • Phase I: Medical screening and tissue typing. This can be done by phone or in person. Results take one week and up to three donors can be tested at one time. The best donor will be chosen to continue to Phase II; other donors will be placed on a backup list.
  • Phase II: Medical, diagnostic, and psychological evaluation takes place at our diagnostic center in one day. If donors are out of town then we will proceed to work with a kidney transplant program near them. If donors are coming from other countries, a visa request is made and they will come to do the workup here at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI).
  • Phase III: Scheduling of surgery and surgical evaluation.
  • Phase IV: Post-donation monitoring of labs and general well-being.

Who pays for the donor testing, surgery, and post-op care?

  • All of the above is covered by the Kidney Acquisition Fund and/or the recipient’s insurance company. NO charges will be made to the donor’s insurance nor will the need for self-pay be accrued by the donor. Donors may also qualify for extra funding through the National Donor Assistance Program for travel, food, and housing.

When should the recipient ask someone to consider donating?

  • As soon as the recipient begins their pre-transplant evaluation, which allows the donor team the ability to provide full support to any potential donor.

Who qualifies for the Paired Kidney Exchange Program?

  • Any potential living donor, in particular if the donor and the recipient are blood type incompatible, or if the recipient is highly sensitized, meaning he or she has too many antibodies and is at risk for rejection against the donor.
  • Blood type compatible pairs should also participate in the Paired Kidney Exchange Program – this will increase the chances to find a better matched kidney whether due to genetic matches, age matches, or anatomical reasons; thus leading to better outcomes and likely a longer lasting kidney allograft.
  • If blood type compatible donors participate in the Paired Kidney Exchange Program, a time limit will be allotted to find a better match (maximum of 6-8 weeks). If no matches are found during this period of time, the living donor transplant surgery will be scheduled as expected.

What are the precautions taken for both living donors and recipients during this new COVID-19 era?

  • We advise all potential donors and recipients to continue following safety precautions such as frequent hand washing, the use of face masks, and social distancing.
  • We are keeping donors isolated from the rest of the public to minimize exposure to the virus when coming to the clinic and other diagnostic testing sites. Once chosen to proceed with surgery and the surgery is within a couple of weeks, both the donor and recipient are tested for COVID-19 on multiple occasions. If at any time someone has symptoms or tests positive during the evaluation prior to surgery, a determination will be made to postpone the surgery/transplant by the transplant team.
  • Upon visiting clinics and labs, all patients will be asked certain questions and their temperature will be taken. If a concern exists for possible COVID-19 infection, these individuals will be redirected to another location for further evaluation and testing.
  • Once the transplant has been performed, and on the day of discharge, all patients will be tested again for COVID-19.
  • Transplant patients that test positive for COVID-19 and require hospitalization are placed in specific areas of the hospital and will be monitored closely by the transplant team.
  • For more information, please click here.