Kidney Donation from a Living Donor

Kidney Donation from a Living Donor

Donate a Kidney to a Loved One or Stranger

For More Information

Deciding to donate a kidney is an intensely personal decision with priceless benefits to your recipient. Research shows that people who receive kidneys from living donors live longer and have fewer complications than those who receive kidneys from deceased donors. The Duke kidney transplant team can help you understand the kidney donation process. Should you decide to donate your kidney to a loved one, or if you prefer to be an altruistic donor (without an intended recipient -- that is, donating to a stranger), we will be with you every step of the way.

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The Benefits of Living Kidney Donation

Kidney transplant recipients experience many benefits when they receive a kidney from a living donor.

Kidneys Last Longer
According to the National Kidney Registry, kidneys transplanted from living donors can last nearly twice as long as kidneys from deceased donors -- sometimes up to 30 years or more.

Shorter Wait Time
The wait time for a living-donor organ is shorter, and the date and time of the surgery can be coordinated with you and your recipient. 

Faster Recovery, Fewer Post-Transplant Complications
Because a living-donor kidney almost always works immediately after its placement, the recipient usually recovers faster and experiences few post-transplant complications.

Kidney Donor Benefits
Many donors find their lives are enhanced by the emotional benefit and sense of pride that comes from knowing they helped someone in need. Studies show that up to 98 percent of living kidney donors would make the decision to donate again.

Begin the Process

This preliminary, confidential survey will help us determine if it is safe for you to be a kidney donor.

How to Donate Your Kidney

These are the key steps in the living kidney donation process. 

Extensive Evaluation

A comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation process will confirm that you can undergo the surgery with no ill effects, physical or otherwise. We select only kidney donors we are confident can return to their normal lives after surgery. If you don’t live nearby, testing can be done in your own community and the results sent to us.

The Kidney Donation Procedure

In most cases, transplant surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to remove your kidney. Two small incisions are created in your abdomen, through which a camera and other instruments are inserted. The kidney is removed through a slightly larger opening in the bottom of the abdomen. Surgery lasts about two or three hours.


Kidney donors typically spend one night in the hospital and go home the next day. You should be able to return to work within one to two weeks and should be back to most of your usual activities in a few weeks.

Follow-Up Medical Care

Follow-up appointments with the transplant team are scheduled for one to two weeks after surgery and again at six months, one year, and two years. You can return to Duke to see a member of our team, or you can arrange for your primary care doctor to collect follow-up blood and urine samples and record vital signs like your weight and blood pressure.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Should You Donate Your Kidney?

If you are considering living kidney donation, you may want more information to help you make your decision. These questions and our answers offer more insight into our program as well as the kidney donation process.

What Is Your Experience with Kidney Donation Surgery?
Nearly 40 years of kidney transplant expertise is collectively shared among our nationally-recognized kidney transplant surgeons.

  • About 30 Percent of Kidney Transplants are from Living Kidney Donors
    We make every effort to ensure you do well, and we have the expertise to handle any situation that arises.
  • Minimally Invasive Techniques for Shorter Stays, Faster Recovery
    Our transplant surgeons use the most up-to-date, minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove your kidney for transplant. This innovative approach was pioneered at Duke and results in smaller incisions, less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery.

Will I Have Support for My Decision?

  • Your Health and Well-Being Are Our Priority
    The life-sustaining gift of donating a kidney is an intensely personal, physical, and emotional journey. Our kidney transplant team includes kidney specialists, kidney transplant surgeons, social workers, and transplant coordinators. We are dedicated to helping you fully understand the procedure and make a decision that is right for you.
  • We Are On Call 24/7 for Your Medical Needs
    The transplant coordinator helps you plan your visit, answers any questions you may have, and facilitates your personalized guidance through the entire process: donation, recovery, and follow-up.
  • Your Independent Living-Donor Advocate
    The sole function of this advocate is to represent and advise you on all decisions to be made.
  • You Can Change Your Mind
    You can delay or end the donation process at any time. You may speak with any team member or the advocate for assistance with this.

What if My Kidney Isn’t Compatible with My Recipient?
If your kidney is not a match for its intended recipient, you may be able to take part in our center’s paired kidney exchange program in which donors essentially “swap” recipients so that each receives a compatible organ. This exchange can be discussed with your transplant coordinator.

Best Hospital for Nephrology in North Carolina
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital’s nationally ranked nephrology program was named best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.