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Transplant Recipient Information

Finding a living donor and transplant tourism

Get ready

Learn about living kidney donation so you’ll be ready to answer questions.

Share your story​

  • Talk to family and friends in person. Be honest and sincere. Share your story, explain the facts, and give people time to understand the information. Some people outside of your immediate family may not know t​hat your kidneys are not working well. Let them react naturally. Use the time to share your story and raise awareness. Ask the question. Would you be interested in learning more about living kidney donation? Would you be interested in donating a kidney? If you are, would you be interested i​n donating to me?
  • Write letters. If you don’t want to speak to family and friends in person, write them a letter or send an email sharing your story.
  • Use technology and social media. Social media brings new ways to letting others know about your situation. With social media, you can share your story with many people, not just your immediate family and friends. When you share information publicly, you can’t always control what people do with it. The media may want to talk to you, or there could be wrong information shared about you, and that could affect you and the potential donor. If you choose this way of sharing your story, be safe. Take care about posting private information like your address or phone number.
  • Use other media outlets. This can get out to more people this way, but just like with social media, you can’t control what people do with the information. When doing a media story, it’s important to give the Living Donor Program contact information. Do not include your personal contact information. There cannot be any promises of gifts or money to get people to donate. Talk to your Transplant Team before doing any media stories. 
  • Ask for help. A close friend or family member can be a speaker for you. This personal advocate can share your story and need for a kidney. They’ll need to know about how kidney donation works so they can answer questions. Sometimes the spokesperson may also need to be ready to talk about their own reasons for not donating. For example, they aren’t a match with you, or they have a health problem.

Starting the living donation process

It’s important to ask all potential donors to contact the program as soon as possible. Not everyone who says they’re interested will call or continue with the donation process.

If someone you know is interested in becoming a living donor, they need to come forward on their own.

The donor and recipient medical evaluations are kept separate. The potential donor can decide what or how much they want to tell you about their assessment. If at any time the potential donor decides not to donate, the program will not share the reason for the decision, whether medical or personal with anyone.

If someone is interested in helping you by being a living donor, they can contact the Living Donor Program closest to them.

There are some resources available to support living donors, for example, information about finances and social support. The Living Donor Program team can help people access any other resources that may be available such as employer resources or resources through the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Transplant tourism

Transplant tourism is when people travel to another country to buy an organ for transplant. These foreign programs may seem attractive. But transplant tourism brings serious risks for donors and recipients.

Donors are often put at risk because they haven’t had the right kind or a full assessment. They may also feel pressured to donate instead of deciding if it’s right for them or not. Follow-up medical care may be absent or delayed after donation.

Recipients may not get all the information that they need for a successful transplant. The transplant team in Alberta often doesn’t get the medical records from where the transplant happened. Many times, recipients are sent home from hospital before they are ready.

Research shows that recipients have a higher risk for infections, organ failure, cancer, or death with this type of transplant. The transplant team in Alberta can’t do anything to make sure these transplants are done safely.

In Canada, as in most countries, it’s illegal to buy or sell organs for transplant.

The transplant team has a strong responsibility to make sure that donors aren’t forced to donate for money or any other reason. They must decide to donate because they want to and because they feel it is right for them.

Talk openly with your transplant team before making a decision to get a transplant elsewhere.​​​

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