Living-donor transplantation Overview

Start Your Donor Evaluation

Get started as a living kidney or liver donor by completing this health history questionnaire.

Living-Donor Toolkit

Learn what transplant recipients and living donors can expect: tests, screening, the procedures, risks, recovery, financial information and more.

Mayo Clinic transplant doctors, surgeons and other transplant staff members have extensive experience with living donation. Living-donor transplantation often offers you an attractive alternative to waiting for a deceased-donor organ. You may have a shorter waiting period and fewer complications with a living-donor transplant. (Learn more about paired donor programs at Mayo Clinic.)

Mayo Clinic surgeons perform living-donor transplant surgery for liver transplant and kidney transplant.

Mayo Clinic has one of the largest living-donor kidney transplant programs in the United States. Researchers actively study outcomes after transplants to improve results. In general, living-donor kidneys will function longer than deceased-donor kidneys.

Surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery to remove a living donor's kidney (laparoscopic nephrectomy) for a kidney transplant, which may involve less pain and a shorter recovery for the donor. For a living-donor liver transplant, approximately half of the donor's liver is removed through an incision similar to, but smaller than, the incision used for the recipient.

Donor eligibility and information

The transplant team will evaluate you to determine if you can donate a kidney or part of your liver. Donors usually are younger than 60 years old. You'll have blood tests to determine if your blood and tissue types are compatible with the organ recipient. Transplant staff will interview you, and you'll need to provide your medical history. You'll also have a thorough physical examination. Several other tests, including detailed imaging of your liver or kidneys, will be performed to ensure that you're in good health and you meet donation criteria. Start the process by completing a Health History Questionnaire.

Transplant staff will discuss with you and your family the benefits and risks of donating an organ and answer your questions. After you donate an organ, living-donor coordinators and other transplant staff members will offer you support and follow-up care for several months after your surgery.

In addition to donating living organs, you also may donate bone marrow for a bone marrow transplant.

Living Liver Organ Donation

Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D.: The liver is amazing. It is the only organ in the body that can regenerate to that capacity.

Julie Heimbach, M.D.: So when someone donates part of their liver, it's truly remarkable in that a period of weeks, it continues to regenerate very rapidly.

John Poterucha, M.D.: Most of our living donors have a relationship with the potential recipient, and if that recipient's priority for a deceased donor liver is not high then their only option to get a transplant faster is from a living donor.

Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D.: It gives an opportunity for loved ones to do the best for the patient who is need of a liver transplant. It provides the ultimate gift of life.

Julie Heimbach, M.D.: I think it's important for a potential donor to know that it is a big operation that they need to allow themselves adequate time to recover from that operation.

Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D.: The long term risks are usually much less. People might have hernias or bulges in their abdominal wall and overall risk for having a life-threatening complication in this operation is about 1 in 300.

Julie Heimbach, M.D.: Liver transplant at Mayo is somewhat unique in that the team is very connected.

John Poterucha, M.D.: I think we have the luxury of having it under one roof.

Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D.: It takes a village to transplant somebody and that includes the patient, the loved ones of the patient, the whole Mayo team.

Julie Heimbach, M.D.: We would encourage if you have questions, we would have the opportunity for you to talk with some of our donors who've already gone through the process.

Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D.: We have three different facilities in three different parts of the country with excellent outcomes and large liver transplant programs. It's one of the biggest living donor liver transplant programs in the country. One of the longest-running ones in the country. It's been running for 20 years now.

John Poterucha, M.D.: We've had liver transplant recipients run marathons, have children, they go back to work.

Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D.: You see that's the best part of our job. Seeing them at the end of the transplant with everything turned around and living a healthy life.

Living Kidney Organ Donation

Mikel Prieto, M.D.: Many people don't realize that they can change somebody's life by doing this sacrifice. Donating a kidney does not having any long term consequences.

Carrie Schinstock, M.D.: Some patients lose their kidney from genetic diseases or even congenital problems.

Mikel Prieto, M.D.: When that condition progresses to the point where the kidney's going to fail, there's only two options. One option is start dialysis which would be a machine that essentially that does the function of the kidney. The other option is a kidney transplant. There's two ways to do this. One is if you get approved for transplant, we put you on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney. The other option, which is the best option, is getting a healthy kidney from a living donor.

Carrie Schinstock, M.D.: If you don't have a living donor, you may wait several years for a deceased donor. While we can work up a living donor and you might be able to get a transplant within months.

Mikel Prieto, M.D.: This is a very common procedure. It is done with laparoscopic techniques. In other words, with very small incisions. We feel that it's very safe for the donor and has very good long-term outcomes for the recipient.

Carrie Schinstock, M.D.: Donors are typically in the hospital for only one to two days, and within six to eight weeks they're usually ready to go back to work and lead their normal lives. If you're interested in being a kidney donor, to first step is to access our living donor questionnaire that you can access online.

Mikel Prieto, M.D.: I like coming to work every day because I know that I am surrounded by a team of fantastic professionals. As a team, we're going to be able to get our patients through the most difficult time of their lives.

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  • Mayo Clinic Living Donor Transplantation
  • 5777 E. Mayo Blvd.
    Phoenix, AZ 85054
  • Kidney or Liver: 800-344-6296


  • Mayo Clinic Living Donor Transplantation
  • 4500 San Pablo Road
    Jacksonville, FL 32224
  • Kidney: 904-956-3309


  • Mayo Clinic Living Donor Transplantation
  • 200 First St. SW
    Rochester, MN 55905
  • Kidney: 866-249-1648
  • Liver: 866-227-7501
May 09, 2023