A healthy person can lead a normal life with only one working kidney. This means they are able to donate their other kidney to help someone who needs a kidney transplant. 

Live donor transplantation helps reduce the waiting times for people who otherwise have to wait for a donation from someone who has died. Live donation can also help people for whom it is difficult to find a compatible donor.

Kidneys donated from living donors can be:

  • related – a blood relative within your family, such as your mum, dad, brother, sister, cousin or grandparent
  • unrelated – from someone the recipient has an emotional relationship with, such as a spouse, partner or friend
  • altruistic – from someone who has donated a kidney to someone in need who they do not necessarily know

Altruistic donation 
You can register your interest in donating a kidney to someone you do not know (known as non-directed altruistic donation). Complete the form and someone from the team will get in touch.

Or you can contact our live donor coordinators:

Harvinder Kaur Dulku: 020 3313 8145
Nicola McKenna: 020 3313 5322

How to become a live donor 

There are six main steps to deciding if you can donate a kidney. Some of them involve hospital visits.

Step 1: 

  • you learn about kidney donation by taking part in an information session with the hospital live donor team
  • you talk about it with the person you want to donate to (if you know who they are)
  • you complete a donor registration and health questionnaire, giving as much detail as you can, and email it to the live donor coordinators.

Step 2:

  • the live donor coordinators will check your health questionnaire
  • they may contact you or your GP for more information if they have a concern about your health
  • if your health questionnaire shows you are suitable, you will be asked to make a hospital appointment.

Step 3 – first hospital appointment:

First, you will have a telephone appointment to provide information. Then you will have a clinic appointment for a health assessment and compatibility tests. These tests will discover your blood group and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type. You will get an appointment for a telephone consultation where you will get your results.

Step 4 – telephone appointment – results:

We allow six weeks for all the results to be available. The compatibility tests take the longest. These are important for knowing whether you can donate directly to your recipient. If your blood results (blood group and HLA type) are not compatible, there is still an option to donate via the UK living kidney sharing scheme providing your health assessment is suitable.

If there are any concerns about your health assessment, the coordinators may contact you before the telephone appointment to:

  • repeat one of the tests
  • arrange a further investigation
  • make an onward referral for treatment or an opinion such as to your GP or a specialist.

Step 5 – second hospital appointment – full-day investigation

You will visit the hospital for another health assessment, which is more in depth than the first health screen. Your live donor co-ordinator will tell you about the different tests you will need

Step 6 – results, plus medical and surgical assessments

Two weeks after the full-day investigation, you will get your results at an appointment with the live donor consultant nephrologist. They will talk to you about the results and how suitable you are to donate, and the associated risks of donating.

You will also meet the transplant surgeon who will assess you for the operation and explain what happens. They will confirm which kidney will be removed and the type of operation.

If you are found suitable to donate directly to your recipient, a date for the operation will be set.