Donating a kidney to another individual is an act of great kindness. Nearly half of the kidneys transplanted at Massachusetts General Hospital are given by living donors—family members, friends, co-workers and donors who are unknown to the recipient.
Individuals who wish to become living kidney donors undergo a three-part evaluation process, as described below. Our dedicated donor coordinators guide potential donors through each step, keeping them informed of testing and evaluation results. Typically, the Mass General Transplant Center and the recipient’s insurance will cover the cost of the evaluation and surgery.
Phase One: Phone Contact and Health Questionnaire
- Donor evaluation begins with the prospective donor contacting our Transplant Center and submitting a completed health questionnaire to determine their overall health status and candidacy to donate
- Once a completed health questionnaire is received, a member of our team will contact the donor candidate to confirm whether he or she qualifies for additional evaluation
Phase Two: Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation (Part 1)
- Candidates come to Mass General for a half-day donor evaluation visit. This visit includes an educational session, a meeting with the donor coordinator, social worker and a nephrologist (a doctor who specializes in kidney care), who reviews the candidate’s medical history and conducts a physical examination
- The physical examination includes blood work, urine tests and an electrocardiogram (EKG)
- After the visit, the donor candidate will complete a 24-hour urine collection and have additional blood tests, which can be completed at a laboratory close to the candidate’s home. Based on the medical history and physical exam, other tests may be necessary and can often be scheduled close to the candidate’s home
Phase Three: Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation (Part 2)
- The donor candidate returns to Mass General for a computed tomography (CT) scan of the kidneys and blood vessels, as well as any other necessary consultations
- This visit includes meeting with the surgeon to discuss the candidate’s ability to donate, as well as the surgical procedure and hospital experience
- The donor candidate also meets with the independent donor advocate, who is a social worker that works with the donor candidate to ensure that his or her best interests are represented and that decisions made are to the benefit of the donor
Once all tests are complete, the donor’s candidacy is reviewed at the Mass General Transplant Center’s multidisciplinary kidney transplant selection meeting. If the donor is approved, donation surgery can be scheduled on a date that is convenient for both the donor and recipient.