Living donors are transforming organ and tissue donations in the United States. While transplants from living donors have been around for a while, many transplant patients are unfamiliar with this option. Transplant centers are empowering patients through education programs in order to increase understanding and awareness of the procedure.
A Living Donor is a healthy person who donates an organ to another in need and sometimes is the only hope for a second chance. Living donors immediately increase the existing organ supply and enable more patients to receive transplants.
The U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation (OrganDonor.gov) states living donors potentially can donate:
- One of two kidneys.
A kidney is the most frequently donated organ from a living donor. The donor’s remaining kidney provides the necessary function needed to remove waste from the body.
- One of two lobes of their liver.
Cells in the remaining lobe of the liver grow or regenerate until the liver is almost its original size. This re-growth of the liver occurs in a short period of time in both the donor and recipient.
- A lung or part of a lung, part of the pancreas, or part of the intestines.
Although these organs do not regenerate, both the donated portion of the organ and the portion remaining with the donor are fully functioning.
Regarding the increase in living donor kidney and liver donation, UNOS reports, “The record-setting increase follows a steady trend. Between 2014 and 2019, the number of living donor kidney transplants in the U.S. increased 24 percent and the number of living donor liver transplants climbed 87.1 according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.”
According to UNOS, “Relatives, loved ones, friends and even individuals who wish to remain anonymous often serve as living donors to spare a patient a long and uncertain wait. In 2019, more than 7,400 transplants were made possible by living donors.” Some living donors are altruistic and chose to donate to someone they don’t know.
The National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) offers financial support to living donors. We help these donors overcome the financial challenges associated with their donation. NFT offers assistance through fundraising and grant programs for transplant-related costs not covered by public or private insurance. NFT programs are available to both the transplant patient and the living donor. Learn more about NFT’s Living Donor Program.
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