Kidney Donation | Organ Donation

Donating an organ can save lives. For people suffering from end stage renal disease, a kidney transplant may be the best treatment option.

Living donors offer the gift of life. They help family members, friends or sometimes even strangers. You can also join a registry to donate after you pass away.

What is organ donation?

Organ donation is the act of giving a healthy, working organ to someone in need of one. Donations come from the living or the deceased.

Kidneys are the most needed organ on the national wait list.

Living donors can donate to someone on the waiting list or directly to someone they know. The outcomes for people receiving a kidney from a living donor are better than from a donor who is deceased.

Is making a kidney donation safe?

Living donation has an excellent safety record. Donation is done by making a small incision in your stomach. Donors usually have a two- to three-day hospital stay. Recovery is four to six weeks.

Kidney transplant

Patients on the waiting lists will be scheduled for donation as soon as they are matched with a donor. The waiting list considers:

  • Blood type
  • Body size
  • Illness severity
  • Donor distance
  • Tissue type
  • Time on the waiting list

Living Kidney Donor Handbook

For more information on becoming a living donor, check out the “Living Kidney Donor Handbook.”

Making an organ donation

Donating an organ can mean giving the gift of life to someone in dire need. Kidneys are the most needed organ on the national waiting list.

How do I make a living donation?

A donor needs to be in good health, free of infection and diseases, and typically 18 or older in order to donate an organ.

Potential donors will be evaluated to determine whether they are able to donate and if they can have a healthy life without the organ.

Living donors can contact the Maine Transplant Program at Maine Medical Center.

The Maine Transplant Program provides care for patients with irreversible kidney failure and for their living donors

Living donation screening

Donors will have preliminary tests to ensure they do not have any infections and they can have a healthy life without their organ. Other factors are considered to match a donor with a patient, including:

  • Blood type
  • Tissue type
  • Organ health

Blood and tissue do not need to be an exact match to the patient. The transplant’s rate of success increases with a better match.

The living donor will be required to attend follow-up appointments.

Deceased donation

Many people choose to donate their organs after they pass away.

  • The donor or the donor’s family (when the donor is already deceased) needs to give consent, in order for the organ to be donated.
  • Donors can join a national registry to have their organs donated when they pass away.

In Maine, you can sign up online with the Secretary of State's Organ Donor Registry Online Service. Or, you can sign up by visiting a Bureau of Motor Vehicles Branch Office.