What is the procedure for becoming a living organ donor?

Katrina Bramstedt, PhD
Health Education

Donors are generally adults but sometimes teenagers are allowed to donate to a close relative. The path to becoming a donor is long and complex but this is to ensure donor safety. in the US, all donors must receive a medical evaluation, a surgical evaluation, a Donor Advocate evaluation, and a psychosocial evaluation. Sometimes, the situation will also require an ethics consultation with a medical ethicst (see

Sometimes adults have the desire to be a living donor but they don't even know someone who needs an organ. These are called Good Samaritan Donors. In these situations, the individual can contact their local transplant center to find out if they allow Good Samaritan donations (some hospitals only allow donations to friends or family). Another mechanism is the National Kidney Registry ( This organization helps Good Samaritans by maintaining a registry of donors and works with transplant hospitals in the US and Australia to arrange transplants. It also provides them insurance benefits.

At any time during the evaluation process the donor candidate can decide not to participate by informing the Donor Advocate or any member of the medical team. The role of the Donor Advocate is to ensure that the candidate is not coerced to donate, and has the proper motivations for donating. The Donor Advocate also ensures the candidate has the ability to give informed consent and truly understands the procedure (and the potential consequences/risks).

Educate yourself. Contact the transplant center and speak with a donor coordinator to learn about the evaluationand donation process. Speak with a former donor. Learn if this is something you can really do – both logistically and medically. During the process, you will meet the living donor team and undergo an array of tests that will ensure you are healthy enough to donate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.