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Living Kidney Donation

Life and Relationships

What effects can this decision have on my life and relationships?

When you think about becoming a donor it’s important to think about how the kidney donation may affect you and your family. For example, if you’re a parent donating to a young child, think about how this could affect your other children. If you’re donating to a partner, someone may need to help to look after young children since both of you will need time to recover. Families will need physical help and emotional support until they’ve fully recovered.

Sometimes unexpected health problems are found during the living donor evaluation. As a result there could be other medical treatments that you hadn’t expected.

During the evaluation a lot of attention is on the donor. After surgery the focus may shift to the recipient. This shift of attention can sometimes be hard to deal with as the donor.

Will my relationship with the recipient change?

If you know who the recipient will be, it’s a good idea to talk about your decision with them before you donate. Talking with each other first can make things less stressful for both of you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with the recipient, you can talk to your living donor program coordinator or the social worker.

What happens if I’m turned down as a donor or change my mind?

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. If it turns out that you’re not able to be a donor, you may feel very disappointed. It might help to talk about your feelings either with the recipient or a support person.

There are many things you can do for the recipient besides donating your kidney. They’ll need someone to help support them in the hospital when they do have a kidney transplant. Examples of how you might do this are giving them rides to the hospital for clinic appointments, helping to get groceries, and doing their housework. You can also help by giving emotional support.

If you change your mind and choose not to donate, you may want to tell the recipient about why you decided not to donate. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, the living donor program will let the recipient team know that you’ve been declined as a donor for medical reasons at this time.

What if I’m feeling pressured?

You may feel confused or pressured by others when you’re trying to decide if you’re going to donate. Some people can make this decision easily. Others go through some soul searching 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 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 family and friends to have many emotions, because someone they know (the potential recipient) 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 right decision for you. Even if you don’t donate your kidney,  you can still provide tremendous support and help.

If you have any questions or concerns about donating, we are here to help. Please call one of our living donor programs if you have any questions:

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 confidential.

I’m having trouble making the decision, 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:

  • don’t have the funds to take time off work for tests, appointments, surgery, and recovery.
  • have to take care of young children or parents.
  • can’t take time away from work, school and other daily tasks.
  • don’t have a support system.
  • feel pressured to donate.
  • expect to be paid for donating the kidney.​​​​​​​​

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