Living Donor Organ Transplantation

This information is useful for children and adults
Portrait of Dr. Kulkarni

Credit: Robert A. Lisak

Why Yale Medicine?
  • We are the first practice in the country to provide our living donors with free, lifelong local medical monitoring for any health issues that may arise related to their organ donation.
  • We are creating communities of living donors throughout Connecticut to ensure they will always have someone to turn to for support.
  • The Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Transplantation Center is a world leader and pioneer in transplant and a referral center for the most complex cases.

Most kidneys and livers used in transplantation come from deceased donors, but this approach doesn’t provide enough organs for all the people who need them. All told, 118,000 people in the United States are on a waiting list for an organ, and many of them will wait years for a life-saving organ transplant. That’s why it’s essential to increase the number of liver and kidney donations from people who are alive.

You can save a life and gain a wonderful sense of satisfaction by becoming a living organ donor.

“Our philosophy is that people should be as healthy after donating a kidney as before,” says Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, medical director of Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Living Organ Donors, and associate professor of transplant surgery and nephrology at Yale School of Medicine. The center builds support communities for donors and is a pioneer in providing free, lifelong local medical monitoring for any issues that may arise related to their organ donation.

A living donation occurs when a person who is alive donates an organ—a liver or a kidney—so that it can be transplanted into someone who needs it. For the recipient, there are many benefits to living donation, including a shorter wait for an organ, convenient scheduling of surgeries, and fewer complications and procedures (including dialysis for a kidney recipient). In addition, once they are transplanted, organs from living donors often last longer than those from deceased donors.

A transplant is possible when the donor and recipient are compatible, which may include such factors as blood type and body size.

There are three types living donations:

Directed donation: You donate your organ to a specific person—either a family member, someone you know or a stranger you have heard about.

Non-directed donation: You donate an organ, but do not name a specific recipient. Your transplant center gives the organ to a medically-compatible recipient.

Paired donation: You want to donate a kidney to a loved one, but you are not compatible, so you “trade” with another donor/recipient pair. Their recipient gets your kidney and your loved one gets their donor’s kidney. A paired donation can involve multiple donors and recipients.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.