Living Organ Donation – Let’s Talk

organ and tissue donation OntarioMany people are familiar with deceased organ and tissues donation, however it is possible to also consider healthy living organ donation. Living organ donation could include a kidney, part of the liver, lung, small bowel, or pancreas. The focus of this blog is live kidney donation.

Unfortunately the need for transplanted organs – live or deceased is far greater than the supply. Many people on the kidney wait-list will die before they receive a compatible kidney.

Live kidney donation is most common for an effective alternative to Dialysis or transplant from a deceased donor. The success rate is also better being 90 – 95% after the first year and lasting the recipient 15 – 20 years of kidney function compared to a deceased donor success rate of 85-90% after the first year and lasting from 10 – 15years.

To be a living donor the person must meet the following criteria:

  • Be in good general health
  • Over 16 – 19 years of age depending on the legislation of the province or territory,
  • Show no evidence of significant High Blood Pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, or hepatitis.

The risk of donating a kidney is that this is major surgery and over the short term there may be complication of pneumonia, infection, pain, discomfort, allergic reaction to anesthetic, collapsed lung or blood clots. Having listed all these potential complications, death rarely occurs.

Over the longer term the donor may have increased risk of High Blood Pressure, kidney failure, psychological issues about donating, or injury or disease to the remaining kidney.

The living donor is responsible for the non-medical costs, travel and out of pocket expenses. The donor can expect to take 6 -8 weeks off work and to recover for up to 12 weeks. Some employers may cover the sick leave with the employer’s health care plan. Some provinces will reimburse non-medical expenses.

If you are a willing donor or potential recipient and are interested in the Living Donor Paired Exchange Program you need to contact the Living Donor Coordinator at the Transplant Centre in your area. There are programs across the country. There are 7 here In Ontario. Please click here for more information.

As always, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,


Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator and licensed funeral director specializing in prepaid funeral planning. To set up an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact her directly.

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