Living-donor transplantation Overview

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.