Living donor vs. Cadaver Donor

What's the story? 

Thanks for wanting to become informed.  You can help all who are waiting for an organ donation by spreading the word to other people.  The more people who are educated, the more people can make an informed decision regarding organ donation.

To start off with – most people who need an organ transplant (ie., kidney, liver, heart, etc.) are already on the transplant list.  The transplant list is split into regions throughout the world.  A person in need who qualifies to be on the transplant list, may list in multiple regions.  The transplant list is ONLY for cadaver organs – in other words, the transplant list was made to govern a fair transition from a deceased organ donor to a qualified recipient in that region.  The problem with the transplant list is that there are many people in need and a limited amount of organs.  In North Carolina alone, over 3,400 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant! (Statistic taken from DonateLife NC).

A living donor is a person who gives a piece of themselves to help save someone else’s life.  Medical science has advanced to the point where donation from a living donor is now possible.  By offering a kidney, lobe of a lung, portion of the liver, pancreas or intestine, living donors offer their recipient an alternative to waiting on the national transplant waiting list for an organ from a deceased donor.
Why become a living donor?  Thousands of people die each year waiting for donated organs.  There are never enough organs to meet the need.
Giving the gift of life to another person is one of the most meaningful things a person can do.  Today, more than 6,000 living donors per year give the gift of life to another person, and one in four of these living donors aren’t biologically related to the recipient.


How do you become a living donor?

Living donors should be in good overall physical and mental health and free from uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer,

HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and organ diseases. 

Most living donors are older than 18 years old and compatible with the intended transplant candidate.  Since some donor health conditions can prevent the donation and transplant fr
om becoming successful, it is important that you share all information about your physical and mental health with a transplant coordinator.
You must be fully informed of the risks involved and complete a full medical and psychosocial evaluation.  Your decision to serve as a donor should be completely voluntary and free of pressure or guilt.  A living donor cannot be paid for the donated organ because it is illegal.  However, living donors testing and surgery costs are completely paid for by the recipient’s insurance company.
A living kidney donation is done via laparoscopic surgery, meaning small incision and quicker recovery.  Most donors are out of the hospital on the next day, back at work in two weeks, and back to normal life within a month.  The surgery is no more dangerous than any procedure done under general anesthesia.  Check out your doctor and transplant center.  Get comfortable with both – ask a lot of questions.
If you would like more information about becoming a living kidney donor for Shari Vassello, please contact Duke Transplant Services at (919) 613-7777.  The transplant coordinators can answer any questions and help get you started on the process.