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Living Kidney Donation

Making the decision to donate a kidney

I’m having trouble deciding, is this normal?

Absolutely! When you choose to be a donor, you’re choosing to have major surgery and give an important organ to someone. You’ll be​ in close contact with your Living Donor Program who can answer your questions. This can help make you feel confident that you’ve made the right decision for you.

Some reasons that donation may not be right for you now could be that you:

  • have your own health issues
  • have to take care of young children or parents
  • can’t take time away from work, school, and other daily tasks
  • feel pressured to donate
  • don’t have family or friends that can help you as you recover
  • can’t afford to take time off work for tests, appointments, surgery, and recovery
  • expect to be paid for donating the kidney

For more information on possible financial support for living kid​ney donors, go to Costs for living donors​.

Questions to get answers for when thinking about donating?

  • What are your feelings and beliefs about organ donation?
  • What are your risks and benefits if you donate?
  • How could your donation affect your relationship with the recipient or with your family?
  • How will you manage your work, school and other responsibilities while you’re recovering?
  • Who else could be a donor?
  • How will you feel if the results of the evaluation show that you can’t donate?
  • Who will support you while you’re making the decision to donate and you’re being evaluated?
  • Would a negative outcome for yourself or the recipient change your decision to donate?

What if I’m feeling pressured?

You may feel pressure from others when you’re trying to decide if you’re going to donate a kidney. All the things you need to consider can be confusing. Some people can make this decision easily. Others need more time before they can decide. Being afraid of donating a kidney or feeling guilty about not wanting to donate is normal. The only right decision for you is the one that makes you feel most comfortable.

It’s normal for your family and friends to be concerned for you as the donor. They might be worried about the surgery and how having only 1 kidney will affect you.

It’s also normal for the potential recipient’s family and friends to have many emotions as well. Someone they care about is very ill. These emotions can include fear, feeling helpless, stress, jealousy, and even anger. When that happens, you may feel pressured to want to help the potential recipient by donating your kidney.

Take the time you need to make the decision that’s right for you. Even if you don’t donate your kidney, you can still provide tremendous support and help.

The Living Donor Program won’t pressure you to donate. They’ll support you as you decide what’s best for you. They’ll help you make the decision, but not make the decision for you. Even if you decide to donate, you can still change your mind at any time, and the reason will be kept private.

Can I change my mind?

Yes, you can stop the donation process at any time. You may end your living donor evaluation even if some or all the tests are done. All results and any reason you give for stopping are private. You can tell the recipient that you’re no longer able to or that you’re not medically able to donate. It’s up to you what and how much you tell them.

If you’re not comfortable having this conversation with the recipient, the transplant program team will tell the potential recipient that you’re no longer able to donate.

What happens if I’m turned down as a donor?

If it turns out that you aren’t able to be a kidney donor, you may feel very disappointed. It might help to talk about your feelings with the recipient or a support person. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to tell anyone about why you’re not going to be a donor. The results of your donor evaluation are private. The Living Donor Program only tells you the results of the evaluation, not the recipient or anyone else. Donor and recipient information is kept separately.

The intended recipient will stay on the transplant list or look for another living donor.

There are many things you can do to support the recipient besides donating your kidney. They’ll need someone to help them in the hospital when they do have a kidney transplant and during their recovery at home. Examples of what you might do are:

  • give them rides to the hospital or clinic for appointments
  • bring food or help to get groceries for them
  • do their housework

You can also help by giving emotional support. Call or visit them regularly and let them talk about how they’re feeling.

What if my donated kidney doesn’t work properly?

Most kidney transplants from living donors are successful. The chances are very good that your gift of a kidney will give the recipient a healthier life. The living donor evaluation is very thorough and allows for a near perfect donor-recipient match.

Sometimes even with all the testing, the donated kidney may not work well. The donated kidney may not be accepted by the recipient’s body. This is called rejection and is very rare.

Rejection can happen within days of the transplant or years later. It can happen even though all the tests during the evaluation went well and didn’t show any problems.

If the donated kidney doesn’t work properly or is rejected, the recipient still has options. They can go back to dialysis or can choose to try another transplant.

Everyone is different. Your Living Donor Program and the Transplant Teams will talk with you about how donation will affect you and how to get the best outcome.

Can I talk to someone who’s donated a kidney?

Sometimes talking to someone who’s been a living donor can be helpful. It can help when deciding whether to donate and during the evaluation. The more you know, and the better your support system, the more confident and in control you’ll feel.

The following stories provide a look inside the lives of some living donors and kidney transplant recipients. They talk about how family and friends came together to help each other.

If you want to speak to someone who’s donated, call the Kidney Foundation of Canada. To find the Alberta branch closest to you, use the drop-down menu on the location button at the top of the page.

There are 2 branches in Alberta:

  • Northern Alberta and The Territories
  • Southern Alberta

When you call, ask to speak to the kidney care coordinator.

If I decide to donate a kidney, what happens next?

If you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor, contact the Living Kidney Donor Program closest to your home in Alberta:

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