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Shortening the Wait for a Kidney Transplant

Kidney Donation

Understand the wait time.

Waiting for a kidney transplant can be a long and complex process. How long you wait for a healthy kidney often depends on where and when a suitable donor is found. Generally speaking, transplant happens sooner when you are able to receive a direct donation from a friend, relative, or someone else you know.

Another way to get a healthy kidney is to be put on the deceased kidney donation wait list. A healthy kidney is removed soon after the death of a person who agreed to be an organ donor. The healthy kidney is quickly matched to a recipient who has already been identified as a good candidate for transplant. More than 100,000 people are on the wait list for deceased organs. It can take 5 or more years to get the news that a kidney is available.

Support passage of the Living Donor Protection Act of 2021

In February, (S.377) Living Donor Protection Act of 2021 was introduced into the US Senate to propose a number of protections for living donors. The legislation:

  • Prohibits life, disability, and long-term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors, and
  • Amends the Family and Medical Leave Act to specifically include living organ donation as a serious health condition for private and civil service employees.

Supported by a long list of organ transplant advocacy groups, passage of this legislation will go a long way to remove barriers which may stop people from becoming living donors. 

Learn more about becoming a kidney donor

  • Deceased Donor. Deceased organ donation is the process of giving an organ or a part of an organ, at the time of the donor’s death, for the purpose of transplantation to another person. Only about 1/2 of the eligible population is currently registered to donate as a deceased donor. Get more information at Donate Life.
  • Living Donor. The basic criteria for being a living kidney donor include: over the age of 19, in good physical and psychological health, and willing to commit to the pre-donation evaluation process, surgery and recovery. Because healthy people can live with just one kidney, donating a kidney means less wait time and better health for a person in need. Learn more about the living donor program at the National Kidney Registry.

Learn more about kidney transplants here.