Paired Kidney Donation

Patrick G. Dean, M.D.Patrick G. Dean, M.D.
Transplant Surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine


If you find a living donor that is not a match for you, you may be able to participate in paired kidney donation. With this kind of donation, your donor gives the kidney to a person who is a match for it. Like you, that person has a donor whose kidney is not a good fit for them, but it is a match for you. So you can get a kidney from the other recipient's donor. In some cases, more than two pair of donors and recipients may be part of a paired donation chain.


Living kidney donation can only be done between family members.
False – living kidney donation is not limited to blood relatives or family members. Many living donors are friends or acquaintances of the recipient.

You can donate a kidney, even if you don't have someone specific to donate it to.
True –  this is called non-directed donation and it is possible. In addition, non-directed donors can participate in kidney paired donation.

If the person you want to donate to isn't a match, there's nothing you can do to help them.
False – if you do not match your intended recipient, kidney paired donation allows incompatible pairs of donors and recipients to participate in living donation.

Asking someone to donate a kidney is hard.
True – asking an otherwise healthy person to have an operation to give you a kidney is hard. However, many times the donor is more than happy to say yes. In addition, the more people that know you need a kidney, the more people who might volunteer to give you one.

Once you agree to donate a kidney you can’t change your mind.
False – the potential kidney donor can change his or her mind about donating up until the time of the actual operation. 

It hurts to donate a kidney.
True – as with any major abdominal operation, there will be pain and/or discomfort following the procedure. However, the discomfort is almost always manageable with the short-term use of pain medications.

If I donate a kidney, my remaining kidney won’t be able to do the job of two.
False – one healthy kidney will provide more than enough function to clean the waste products and extra fluid from your blood.

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For more information on transplant options, visit

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©2016, PKD Foundation ·The PKD Foundation is a 501 (c)(3), 509 (a)(1) public charity.

©2016, PKD Foundation ·The PKD Foundation is a 501 (c)(3), 509 (a)(1) public charity.