What does it mean to be a living kidney donor?

Living kidney donors can save the life of a family member, friend, neighbor or even a complete stranger. The gift of life that comes from a living donor transplant can provide a shorter wait time, reduce the risk of complications and offer a better chance for long-term success for the person who receives your kidney.

With more than 100,000 people across the country waiting for a kidney transplant, living kidney donors can offer them a second chance at living their healthiest life possible.

Why should you choose Intermountain Healthcare for living kidney donation?

Our living donor program is committed to helping patients achieve transplant while maintaining the highest standards of health and safety for donors and recipients. Since the living kidney donor program started in 1983, we’ve performed more than 1,300 living donor transplants and more than 3,000 total kidney transplants.

Intermountain works with the National Kidney Registry to offer paired donation for both incompatible pairs and compatible pairs in order to provide the best match and better outcomes for donors and recipients.

Through innovative thinking and a team of dedicated caregivers focused on kidney donors and recipients, we’re able to provide care for patients across the Intermountain West.

Your Donation Journey

The length of your journey will mainly depend on how quickly you finish each step. Expected times are shown below:

Getting Started (takes 2-3 days)

First, fill out a questionnaire online to assess your health. Then, a physician will review your questionnaire

Learning more about you (takes 2-3 weeks)

After your questionnaire is reviewed, we will reach out to learn more about you. This will include filling out the Living Donor Records Worksheet, and having a phone call with a donor advocate and a nurse coordinator. We will also ask for a cheek swab at home or clinic to figure out your donation pathway, whether it be directly to your recipient, or through a paired donation.

Evaluation in a transplant clinic (about 2 weeks)

Next, you will come into the Transplant Clinic to get an evaluation, which usually takes a full day. This evaluation will include having any extra tests done, or consulting with more transplant team members as needed. Your results and evaluations will be reviewed for approval by the transplant team.

Donation (time may vary)

Once we get approval from the transplant team, we will help you schedule your transplant surgery. You will come into the clinic for a checkup before your surgery, and then have your kidney donation surgery as scheduled.

Follow-up (two years)

After your surgery, you will come back to the clinic for a checkup to make sure you’re healing well, and you aren’t experiencing any issues after your surgery. You will then be asked to follow-up with the transplant team three more times. The first will be six months after your surgery, then at the one-year mark, and finally at the two-year post-op mark.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tests do you need to have to become a living kidney donor?

The first thing we think about when choosing a living kidney donor is long-term health and keeping you safe. This means we need to test your general health and kidney function to figure out if you’re a good fit.

A donor can expect to have a blood test and a urine test to check for anything out of the ordinary. You will also need to get an EKG to check your heart health, an x-ray to check your lungs, and a CT scan to check for things like kidney size, shape, or tumors. Routine age-appropriate cancer screenings need to be up to date, too. Extra testing may be needed based on your unique circumstances.

A Care Team Centered Around You

Living Donor Advocate

Your Living Donor Advocate plays a key role in your journey.

A living donor advocate gives support to organ donors and makes sure their rights and interests are protected while avoiding contact with the person who’s supposed to receive the organ. Donor advocates also make sure you’re not being pressured to donate an organ. The advocate can also help potential donors throughout the donation process and answer questions privately and without judgement.

Living Donor Assistant

Your Living Donor Assistant plays a key role in your journey.

A living donor assistant is often a donor’s first point of contact with the transplant team. They help you with medical records requests, keep you informed of your status, schedule appointments, and answer questions in the early phases of your organ donation journey.

Living Donor Coordinator

Your Living Donor Coordinator plays a key role in your journey.

A living donor coordinator is a registered nurse who helps educate you about living donation and works as a case manager throughout the process. Coordinators also make sure any tests and evaluations you need are done. They also keep you updated about your results and progress. Potential donors are contacted by a living donor coordinator after the questionnaire is reviewed to answer questions and discuss the donation process.


Your Provider plays a key role in your journey.

A transplant provider can be a specialist, a transplant surgeon, or another type of physician. They will lead your care team.

Advanced Practice Provider

Your Advanced Practice Provider plays a key role in your journey.

An Advanced Practice Provider (APP) is usually a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner. They help support your provider in diagnosing and managing your care.


Your Dietitian plays a key role in your journey.

A dietitian helps you eat a healthy diet that will prepare you for a transplant. After surgery, their advice will help your body get the calories and nutrition it needs to heal.

Transplant Pharmacist

Your Transplant Pharmacist plays a key role in your journey.

A pharmacist specializing in caring for transplant patients will instruct you about your transplant medications. They will explain any side effects, and how to take the medications.

Social Worker

Your Social Worker plays a key role in your journey.

The process of getting an organ transplant can be very emotional. Our social workers can help you and your family cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. They can also help connect you with community resources, housing, and spiritual support.

Financial Coordinator

Your Financial Coordinator plays a key role in your journey.

A financial coordinator will handle your billing. They will work with your insurance to figure out benefits. They can also help get financial assistance.


Your Nurse plays a key role in your journey.

In the hospital, nurses help give you daily care. They keep track of your symptoms and side effects and help you know what is happening with your transplant.