Donating a Kidney

Although you are born with 2 kidneys, you only need 1 to lead an active, healthy life. For this reason, it is possible to donate a kidney to someone in need.

Donating a kidney is a serious life decision. Our priority at Henry Ford is to protect your good health while minimizing risks as much as possible. We respect that you have the right to change your mind about your decision at any point during the donation process.

Henry Ford: experts in kidney donations

Living donor kidney transplantation is a highly specialized procedure. When you come to Henry Ford to donate a kidney you benefit from:

  • Transplant expertise: We have spent close to 50 years perfecting surgical techniques for living donor kidney procedures. Our depth of experience puts you in very capable hands.
  • Minimally invasive procedures: We are among an elite group of centers nationwide using minimally invasive robotic-assisted and laparoscopic procedures to surgically remove kidneys from living donors. Benefits of minimally invasive procedures include:
    • Smaller incisions
    • Less scarring
    • Reduced pain
    • Lower risk of infection
    • Faster recovery
    • Quicker return to an active life

Ways to donate a kidney

There are several ways to donate a kidney:

  • Directed donation: You select a specific person, usually a relative, loved one or friend, to receive your kidney.
  • Non-directed, or altruistic, donation: Henry Ford, in conjunction with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), arranges for your kidney to be given to someone who is on the national kidney transplant waitlist.
  • Kidney paired donation: If your blood and tissue type do not match your intended recipient, the Kidney Paired Donation Program run by UNOS can help. It works by:
    • Matching you and your intended recipient (Team 1) with another paired donor and recipient (Team 2) who are also not a match for each other
    • Sending your kidney to the recipient on Team 2, with Team 2’s donor kidney going to your intended recipient (Team 1)

Resources for living kidney donors

Donating a kidney is a big commitment. We want you to feel comfortable and confident in your decision. Our experts are here to help you:

  • Donor advocates: These Henry Ford physicians are not a part of the kidney transplant team. Donor advocates make sure you understand the expectations and risks of kidney donation. They also confirm that you are making the decision to donate of your own free will.
  • Living organ donor coordinators: These registered transplant nurses are part of the kidney transplant team. They guide you through the entire donation process, from pre-evaluation screening to post-operative recovery.
  • Financial specialists: You should not have to pay medical expenses related to your kidney donation. Our financial specialists assess the transplant recipient’s health insurance plan to determine coverage. If needed, the recipient may apply for grants to cover any of your unpaid expenses.
  • Guest Services: Our caring staff at Guest Services can help you and your loved ones with travel arrangements and lodging. Learn more about these resources.
  • National Living Donor Assistance Center: This nonprofit organization provides financial assistance to help you cover the costs of travel, lodging, missed work and other incidental expenses related to the kidney donation process. Learn more about the National Living Donor Assistance Center.
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