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Living Donation

Living Donation

The first successful living organ transplant was performed between 23-year-old identical twins in 1954.

Dr. Joseph E. Murray at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston transplanted a healthy kidney from Ronald Herrick into his twin brother, Richard, who had chronic kidney failure.

Becoming a Living Donor

The decision to become a living donor is a voluntary one, and the donor may change his or her mind at any time during the process.

The donor's decision and reasons are kept confidential. Registering in the Ohio Donor Registry does not mean you will be called for living donation. Anyone considering becoming a living donor should contact one of the state's eight transplant programs below or visit the United Network of Organ Sharing's website at www.UNOS.org.

Organs Used in Living Donation

Living donor transplants are a viable alternative for patients in need of new organs. Many different types of organs can be provided by living donors, including:

Kidney Illustration   Kidney

This is the most frequent type of living organ donation. For the donor, there is little risk in living with one kidney because the remaining kidney compensates to do the work of both kidneys.

Liver Illustration   Liver

Individuals can donate segments of the liver, which has the ability to regenerate the segment that was donated and regain full function.

Lungs Illustration   Lung

Although lung lobes do not regenerate, individuals can donate a lobe of one lung.

Pancreas Illustration   Pancreas

Individuals can also donate a portion of the pancreas. Like the lung, the pancreas doesn't regenerate, but donors usually have no problems with reduced function.

Intestine Illustration   Intestine

Although rare, it's possible to donate a portion of the intestine.

Heart Illustration   Heart

While extremely rare, a domino transplant makes some heart-lung recipients living heart donors. When a patient receives both a heart and lung transplant from a deceased donor, his or her healthy heart may be given to an individual waiting for a heart transplant. This procedure is used when physicians determine that the deceased donor lungs will function best if they're used in conjunction with the deceased donor heart.

Qualifying as a Living Donor

In order to qualify as a living donor, an individual must be physically fit, in good general health, and free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and heart disease. Individuals considered for living donation are usually between 18 and 60 years of age. Gender and race aren't factors in determining blood type compatibility with the recipient. If the donor and recipient have compatible blood types, the donor undergoes a medical history review and a complete physical examination. The following tests may be performed:

Cross Matching

A blood test is done before the transplant to see if the potential recipient will react to the donor organ. If the cross-match is "positive," then the donor and patient are incompatible. If the cross-match is "negative," then the transplant may proceed. Cross-matching is routinely performed for kidney and pancreas transplants.

Antibody Screen

An antibody is a protein substance made by the body's immune system in response to an antigen (a foreign substance; for example, a transplanted organ, blood transfusion, virus or pregnancy). Because the antibodies attack the transplanted organ, the antibody screen tests for panel reactivates antibodies (PRA). The white blood cells of the donor and the serum of the recipient are mixed to see if there are antibodies in the recipient that react with the antigens of the donor.


This final set of tests involves injecting a liquid that is visible under X-ray into the blood vessels to view the organ to be donated. This procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis, but in some cases, it may require an overnight hospital stay.

Urine Test

In the case of a kidney donation, urine samples are collected for 24 hours to assess the donor's kidney function.

Tissue Typing

The donor's blood is drawn for tissue typing of the white blood cells.


A chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram (EKG) are performed to screen the donor for heart and lung disease.

Psychiatric and/or Psychlogical Evaluation

The donor and the recipient may undergo a psychiatric and/or psychological evaluation.

  • Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, (216)445-3150
  • Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, (800)244-2463
  • Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, (513)585-200
  • Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, (614) 722-2000
  • The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, (614)293-4103
  • University of Toledo Medical Center, Toledo, Ohio, (419)383-4000
  • University of Cincinnati/University Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, (513)584-1000
  • University Hospitals Case Medical Center of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio (216)844-1000