Organ offers are based on the following criteria, in this order: blood type of recipient, matching of tissue typing of recipient to donor, and waiting time. There is no urgency status for kidney recipients. The average wait time for an organ from a deceased donor is between four and five years.
Sources for Kidney Donation
Kidneys can be donated by either a deceased donor or a living donor. The Inova Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Center also performs pancreas transplants from deceased donors. Our patients may have a combined kidney/pancreas transplant (K/P) or a pancreas after kidney transplant (PAK).
Each time a patient on our kidney waitlist has a deceased donor organ offer, our transplant coordinators will review all important donor information with the potential recipient. All potential recipients have the right to decline any organ donor.
Deceased Donor Information
Whenever the family members of a terminally ill patient make the decision to donate their loved one's organs, the Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC), our area's local organ procurement organization, performs tests which help determine which organs can be donated.
If a kidney and/or pancreas is to be donated, WRTC alerts the local transplant centers. An algorithm is used to determine which patients on the transplant waitlists are best suited for this organ. The following information is used to create a list of patients for each organ offer:
- Blood type
- Matching of tissue typing between donor and recipient
- Wait time on the transplant waitlist
- Dialysis time
The transplant coordinator will call the patients who are at the top of this list to review the donor's information. The transplant center is not allowed to share the donor's name, race, or at which hospital they are receiving care. If the potential recipient accepts the organ, testing is then performed to ensure his or her body and immune system will accept this organ.
It is normal for a person on the waitlist to receive several calls for organ offers before they actually receive their kidney or pancreas transplant.
The family members of a terminally ill person may request that their loved one's organs be donated directly to a specific person on the kidney waitlist.
Living Donor Information
All potential living donors must undergo a complete health assessment and evaluation managed by the transplant team.
The decision to donate a kidney requires careful consideration. Kidney donors are special people, willing to share a gift that can only be given once to better another person's life.
We invite anyone who is interested in donating a kidney to contact our living donor coordinator directly at 703-776-8053. Our team is happy to provide as much information as possible to assist you in making this decision.
Kidney Donation Surgery
Nephrectomy is the surgical removal of a kidney. One of two types of nephrectomy is selected based on the potential donor's test results, such as CT scans.
- Laparoscopic nephrectomy. This is the most common type of procedure and entails three to four small abdominal puncture wounds that surround the kidney as well as a two to two-and-a-half inch incision well below the waistline. No muscles are cut during this surgery which means less pain and a shorter recovery period.
- Open nephrectomy. This procedure is used when laparoscopic surgery is not an option due to a donor's anatomy. It entails one larger incision that will require cutting through the abdominal muscle. This type of nephrectomy includes a slightly longer recovery period.
Advantages of Living Donors
- Better success rates. Since the kidneys come from living, healthy people who are in better condition when the kidney is transplanted, the kidney tends to function better over time
- Shorter wait times. Typically there is a four to five year wait for a deceased kidney from the UNOS list. Each year, one out of 20 people waiting for a new kidney dies from kidney disease while on dialysis.
- More time to prepare. When you are on the waiting list for a deceased kidney, you never know when the surgery will happen. With living donation you can schedule surgery ahead of time.
Types of Living Donation
- Directed donation. Directed donors are evaluated to donate a kidney directly to a family member, loved one or friend. Both the donor and recipient surgeries will occur on the same day.
- Paired exchange. A person may want to donate a kidney to a relative or friend but cannot because their blood types or tissue types do not match. If another pair in the same situation is found, an exchange may be possible between the two pairs.
- Non-designated donation. Someone may want to donate a kidney to the general list of patients who are currently awaiting a kidney transplant. In this situation, the donor will not know who the kidney is going to until after the transplant is complete. The recipient always has the right to protect his/her identity. This means the donor may never know who receives his/her kidney.