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.

Scroll down to learn how living donation works and how it has changed the lives of donors, recipients and care teams at UCSF. If you have questions, please email us at [email protected].

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 65 years old (liver donors) or 18 years and older (kidney donors)
  • At or able to reach a BMI below 33 (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 nonsmoker 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

Webinars: Living Organ Donation

Watch the webinar

COVID-19 and Living Donation

Watch the webinar

Living Kidney Donor Champion Series with Helen Christensen, Transplant Coordinator

Watch the webinar

Living Liver Donor Champion Series with Finesse Louie, Transplant Coordinator

Watch the webinar

Living Donation: Kidney Matching Options

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.

If you're interested in becoming a living kidney donor, our informed consent materials will help you understand the process. To find out if you're a good candidate, fill out our 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.

If you're interested in becoming a living kidney donor, our informed consent materials will help you understand the process. To find out if you're a good candidate, fill out our 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?

Paired exchanges: If you want to donate to a friend or loved one but your blood types are not a match, you can still donate at UCSF via a "paired exchange." This involves two recipients with willing but incompatible donors. If the recipient in one pair is compatible with the donor in the other pair – and vice versa – we arrange a swap, and each patient receives a kidney from the other patient's donor. Read more about paired exchanges

Nondirected donors: Even if you don’t have a kidney recipient in mind, you can offer this lifesaving gift as an "altruistic" or "nondirected" donor. Giving a kidney to a stranger can start a transplant chain, which sets off a series of exchanges. UCSF works with the National Kidney Registry (NKR) to match noncompatible or nondirected (altruistic) donors with compatible patients waiting for a transplant. In this way, a single nondirected donor may benefit many lives across the country. See how this works in real life in "How One Donor Saved Nine Lives," below.

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

  • Rated high-performing hospital for acute kidney failure

  • Best in Northern California in gastroenterology & GI surgery

  • More than 390 living donor liver transplants performed by UCSF

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

Our locations

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