Want to know more about living kidney donation? Below are answers to commonly-asked questions. You can also call UC Health and ask to speak with a Living Kidney Donor Coordinator to confidentially discuss questions or concerns at 720.848.0855.



Why Should i become a living kidney donor?

The gift of living donation is the ultimate gift. Studies have shown that living kidney donors have a higher quality of life and greater sense of wellbeing when compared to their siblings who were unable to donate. There is a special bond that grows and evolves between a recipient and their donor, even when the donor is not a family member. A bond is created from being someone's "real life" hero.

IS kidney transplantation a better option for the recipient than dialysis? 

Absolutely. Studies have shown people live much longer with transplantation than on dialysis, which only keeps the average patient alive for four years. Also, quality of life is significantly better with a transplant.


Most donors only spend 1-3 days in the hospital and are able to return to work in 2-3 weeks depending on their recovery and the type of job they have. While there are risks with any surgery, the risk of complications from kidney donation is very low. 

Will a living kidney donor face kidney failure in life?

Living donors have lower rates of lifetime kidney failure than the general population (.9% versus 3.26%, which may be because kidney donors are typically healthier than the average person due to the thorough donor screening process). Their lifetime risk is only .14% higher compared to healthy non-donors. The estimated risk of kidney failure at 15 years after donation is about 3 per 10,000 donors.


In the rare cases that a living donor should need a kidney, that person is given priority on the waiting list, meaning he or she will wait no more than 2-3 months for a kidney rather than 5-10+ years. This is a policy established by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

WILL DONATING A KIDNEY shorten my lifespan?

No. Actually, data has shown that living kidney donors live longer than the average person. Some scientists believe this is due to selection bias; people who donate a kidney are healthier than the average person due to the thorough donor screening process.

WILL i be able to live a normal life after donating a kidney?

Yes. Decades of patient follow up confirms that donating a kidney does not affect your day-to-day life in any way. Donors can hike, bike, run, drive, travel to distant countries, continue in all types of occupations, and do everything else they did before they donated. Also, being a donor does not impact a person’s ability to have a child. Read real-life stories about kidney donors here.

What if I'm not a match but still want to donate to Barbara?

If you're interested in donating a kidney to Barbara but you're not a match, the process doesn't have to end there. Ask a Living Kidney Donor Coordinator to have your name added to the Paired Kidney Donation list, also known as a kidney swap. Click here to learn more about Paired Kidney Donation.


The recipient’s insurance covers all donor testing and the transplant itself. The American Transplant Foundation also provides financial assistance to donors to help make the process easier for families facing significant financial hardship. 


WHAT If i change my mind About donating after agreeing to share my spare kidney?

The potential donor always comes first. Your health and comfort with your decision are the top priority. If you were to change your mind about donating at any time, even on the day of surgery, you'd have full support in your decision. Matching is a tricky process, and last-minute check ups continue up to the time of the surgery itself. In most cases, the assigned doctor will simply inform the recipient that the donor was not a good match after all.

After surgery, what do I have to do to take care of my health?

Kidney donors have check-ups with the transplant center to make sure that they are healing well after surgery. Once they have recovered, donors return to the care of their regular physician.

What should I expect when I call the UC Health Transplant Department to Speak living Kidney donor coordinator?

Your call with a Living Donor Coordinator is an opportunity to ask any and all questions you have about the kidney donation process. If you'd like, your call can be anonymous. All conversations with a Living Donor Coordinator are strictly confidential and will not be shared with Barbara or her family. In addition, health officials will never pressure you in any way to be a living donor.

If you'd like to see if you can be a match for Barbara, the coordinator will ask you to fill out an online health-history form, or answer the same series of questions regarding your personal and family health history over the phone. 

The first thing the coordinator will want to know is your blood type. Please note that positive or negative, i.e. O+ or O- does not matter for donation. Barbara is blood type B; however, even if you have a different blood type than she does, you still may be able to save her life through something called Paired Kidney Donation, also known as a Donor Swap. Ask the coordinator if you'd like to learn more or have your name added to the Paired Kidney Donation list.

Your health comes first and foremost. Doctors will never allow you to donate a kidney if they think it might put your own health at risk; therefore, based on your responses, you may be ruled out as a potential donor during your initial call.

If you pass the initial screening by phone, the coordinator may ask if you'd be willing to take a blood test. You will never be pressured. The decision to proceed in any step of the donation process is yours and yours alone.

If you plan to get a blood test but live outside of Colorado, the coordinator will send you a kit that you can take to a lab near you. It will then be sent back to UC Health.    

 The donor coordinator will work with you every step of the way so that you can make an informed decision about proceeding with donation.

All conversations with a Living Donor Coordinator are strictly confidential and will not be shared with Barbara or her family.

Is Calling a Living Donor Coordinator the only way to see if I'm eligible to give a kidney?

No. You can also click here to fill out an online health-history form. The questionnaire is extremely confidential. Only health professionals on the Transplant Team will use the information. It will not be shared with the kidney recipient or anyone else. The questionnaire should take about 15 minutes to complete.

The questions on the form are the same questions you'd be asked if you called to speak with a Living Donor Coordinator over the phone. 

Please Note: Once you've completed the form, a message will pop up informing you that either 1) You've been ruled out (they will provide the reason/s), or 2) Someone from the UC Health team will contact you within 72 business hours after they've given your form more detailed review. 

This process is strictly confidential and will not be shared with Barbara or her family.


Please contact us, or call the UC Health Transplant Department and ask to speak with a Living Kidney Donor Coordinator: 720.848.0855. All calls are confidential and commitment free.

Q&A from American Transplant Foundation.