Sources for Organ Donation

Kidneys can be donated by either a deceased donor or a living donor. We also perform pancreas transplants from deceased donors, combined kidney/pancreas transplants (K/P) and pancreas after kidney transplants (PAK).

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 tim

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.

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.

Advantages of Living Donors include better success rates, shorter wait times and more time to prepare. Types of living donation include:

  • 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.

Whether you are considering becoming a living donor for a family member, friend or someone you don’t know at all, we encourage you to contact our living donor coordinator at 703-776-8053. Our team is happy to provide as much information as possible to assist you in making this important decision.

Learn how to become a living donor