Living Organ Donors

Donating an organ may be the most deeply satisfying thing you’ll ever do. On average, 20 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant. Through the unique gift of living organ donation, you offer a second chance at life to someone who is struggling to survive.

If you qualify and wish to be a living donor, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC). For details about this program, see the NLDAC's Lost Wages brochure in English or Spanish, or watch this video (optional Spanish captions).

The NLDAC wants to better understand the decision to be a living organ donor. If you'd like to weigh in, take this survey. NLDAC will use the findings to improve programs that help living donors.

Scroll down to learn how living donation works and how it has changed the lives of donors, recipients and care teams at UCSF.

Giving liberates the soul of the giver. – Maya Angelou
Am I eligible to donate?

To be evaluated as a potential donor, you must be:

  • 18 to 60 years old (liver donors) or 18 years and older (kidney donors)
  • At or able to reach a BMI below 30 (liver donors) or 35 (kidney donors) before surgery
  • Willing to avoid consuming alcohol for at least six weeks before and three months after surgery (liver donors only)
  • A non smoker or able to quit at least six weeks before surgery
  • Not pregnant
  • In good physical and mental health
  • Able to understand the risks of surgery
  • Able to follow instructions on preparing for and recovering from surgery
  • Motivated by altruistic reasons

Kidney Donation

When you donate a kidney, your remaining kidney gets slightly larger and does the same amount of work as your previous pair. Living kidney donors have the same life expectancy, general health and kidney function as non-donors.

To find out if you're a good candidate for becoming a kidney donor, take this quick, confidential online health history questionnaire:

Liver Donation

Livers have the unique ability to regenerate. When you donate part of your liver, what remains grows back to its original size within weeks. Patients with living donors don't wait as long for the procedure and have a greater chance for a successful transplant.

To find out if you're a good candidate for becoming a liver donor, take this quick, confidential online health history questionnaire:

Recommended reading

FAQ: Living Kidney Donor

Living donor kidney transplants are an important option. They're possible because we're born with two kidneys. Learn more here.

Background on Living Liver Donors

Are you interested in becoming a liver donor? Learn how to qualify, about the process including, blood type, evaluation, and the chances of success.

Why donate a kidney to a stranger?

If you want to donate to someone you know but aren't a good match due to incompatible blood types, you can still donate and help your friend or loved one get a kidney from a different donor. UCSF can help by arranging a process called a paired exchange, which involves two recipients with willing but incompatible donors. If the recipient from one pair is compatible with the donor from the other pair, and vice versa, the transplant center arranges a "swap," in which the patients receive a kidney from the other person's donor. Read more about paired exchanges

A single altruistic donor – someone who decides to donate a kidney to a stranger rather than a relative or friend – can also set off a "transplant chain," in which many such exchanges are arranged. Like eHarmony for organs, software matches willing donors with compatible patients awaiting transplant. Through transplant chains, a single altruistic donor can benefit many lives across the country.

The patient's perspective

A normal life: A doctor donates a kidney to restore her big brother's health

The gift of a lifetime: Mom with liver cancer gets a lifesaving gift from a friend

Our calling

Dr. Nancy Ascher, Transplant Surgeon and Kidney Donor

Sandy Weinberg, Living Donor Advocate

Valerie McBride, Kidney Transplant Coordinator

Awards & recognition

  • n4-2x

    Ranked No. 6 in the nation for nephrology

  • Ranked No. 11 in the nation for gastroenterology and GI surgery

  • More than 390 living donor liver transplants performed by UCSF

  • More than 3,000 living donor kidney transplants performed by UCSF

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