"Who can be a living kidney donor?
Anyone age 21 or older and in good health can be considered for living kidney donation for Cathy at Yale New Haven Health’s Kidney Center. On rare occasions, they will consider persons age 18 to 20. Donors do not need to be related. It is becoming common for unrelated people to come forward and donate a kidney to someone in need.
How do I know if I’m a match and how important is it to be a match?
A medical team will perform extensive testing between Cathy and her potential donor to assure compatibility. Cathy’s Blood Type is O-Positive. However, if you are not a match, options remain for you to help another recipient get a kidney transplant through what is called an “exchange,” in which your donation goes to another recipient, which allows Cathy to then be paired with a matching donor. The screening evaluation is completely confidential! More on screening below...
What are some of the reasons the Donor Advocacy Panel would not allow me to donate?
The most common reason is if your testing shows you have a risk of developing health conditions that could result in poor kidney function in the future. Other reasons could include health issues, active substance abuse, psychiatric problems or other psycho-social reasons that, with donating, would add undue risk to you.
If I qualify, how long will I be in the hospital and what is the anticipated recovery from surgery?
Most donors stay in the hospital two nights before hospital discharge. As a general guideline, previous donors have reported being 80 percent recovered by two weeks and 100 percent by three weeks after surgery.
What is the follow-up after surgery?
Yale typically sees patients 1.5 weeks after surgery. They are required by United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) to see you at the six-month, one-year and two-year mark after your donation. In addition, Yale’s kidney transplant program is the first in the United States to offer donors long-term medical and social monitoring related to their donation.
Will I be able to drive after my surgery?
You should not drive the first week after surgery. After that, driving should be fine as long as you no longer require narcotic pain medication and can get in and out of the car without discomfort.
Who pays for the procedure and any other expenses related to the procedure?
All medical costs for the procedure, testing and follow-up are covered by the recipient’s insurance. Transportation, lodging, care, or other costs, liked missed wages will be paid by Cathy. The donor does not need to come out of pocket for any expenses related to his/her donation!
What is removed in the procedure?
Kidney donors provide one of their two kidneys for a transplant. The remaining kidney is fully functioning and ensures that the donor maintains his or her quality of life. Minimally invasive kidney extraction (laparoscopic), has made it easier for people to donate a kidney. A living donation allows for shorter wait times and improved health for kidney and liver recipients.
Quality donor care is the top priority. A donor’s long-term health and welfare are a priority the Center for Living Organ Donors. This program is the first in the United States to offer donors long-term medical and social monitoring related to their kidney donation at no cost. A donor will be covered by disability insurance and will be compensated for any missed work days.
How long does it take from starting the evaluation to approval?
The process at Yale’s New Haven Hospital's Center for Living Organ Donors to determine whether a potential living organ donor is approved takes three to four months, depending on scheduling.
This process begins with Yale’s confidential online questionnaire (accessible on the "How to Help" page). Next steps would include a blood test for tissue compatibility, then a urine test/additional blood work to evaluate kidney. These tests can be completed at the donor’s lab nearest to them and can happen quickly. These results take 2-3 weeks to evaluate.
If there are no initial issues, a potential donor attends an education session via Zoom. If they wish to move forward, the donor would come for a one-day visit at Yale’s Living Donor Evaluation Clinic to meet the members of the transplant team individually and complete all necessary testing, including an EKG and chest X-Ray to ensure no other health issues exist. Once all tests are complete, the Donor Advocacy Panel handles the review and final approval process."
How long does it take from the final approval to surgery?
If the donor is approved, the surgery can happen as quickly as 2-3 weeks depending on scheduling. The surgery will take place at Yale New Haven Hospital.
How does Covid-19 affect this process?
The scenario is still fluid as a result of Covid-19. Testing and surgery can still move forward, albeit at a potentially slower rate and with additional precautions. If a donor is local, the process is essentially the same. If the donor is out of state, they must follow travel advisories and quarantine per Connecticut’s Department of Health’s guidelines at the time of surgery.