Living donation is an important part of the battle to end the transplant waiting list. Find out more about what it means to be a living donor, the paired donation program, and how it works.
A living donor is someone who donates one kidney or a portion of their liver or a part of their lung to someone who needs those organs to survive. Transplants from living donors have been extremely successful and most donors recover with very few complications. Individuals can go on to lead perfectly healthy lives with only one kidney and without the portion of their lung. In the case of the liver, the liver regenerates - it grows back - to its original state within a few months.
Living donation can be a difficult choice and requires time after surgery for recovery. But living donation makes it possible for two people to survive, the donor and recipient. Listen to the Simmonds family as they tell their story of living donation.
Canada is fortunate to have two of the best facilities in the world for living organ donation. St Paul’s Hospital in BC does more living kidney donations than anywhere else in the world. Toronto General Hospital does the more living liver transplants than anywhere else in North America. Visit their websites to find out more information on being a living donor.
Any healthy adult can be a living donor! You must undergo extensive medical testing, but if you are found to be in good health you may donate for a transplant, provided that you are a match for the recipient. Many living donors become one because they wish to help a friend or family member in need of an organ.
Unfortunately, although many people may want to help a friend or family member by donating, not everyone will be a match. In Canada, families that do not have an exact match benefit from the Canadian Blood Services paired kidney exchange program.
If you have been found incompatible with the person that you would like to donate to, you and that person can choose to register for the paired donation system. It is a secure database of those in need of a kidney transplant, those willing to be a living donor to save their life, and those who volunteer to be living donors to anyone in need. The system searches incompatible pairs and works to match them up with other incompatible pairs across Canada. There have even been interconnected paired transplants involving as many as 68 people – 34 donors and 34 recipients!
Most living donations are the result of a specific need. If you would like to help a friend or a family member, contact the transplant centre that is treating your loved one. If you would like to donate a kidney to someone that needs one, please contact the Canadian Blood Services Paired Kidney Exchange Program