Kidney donation

Live kidney donation is when you give one of your healthy kidneys to a person whose kidneys don’t work. People whose kidneys don’t work need dialysis (a treatment that cleans their blood) or a kidney transplant to stay alive. Live kidney donation can give them a better and usually longer life.

The person who gives the kidney is called the donor. The person who receives the kidney is called the recipient. If you donate a kidney, you will need to have an operation.

Why is live kidney donation better than dialysis?

Live kidney donation is a better treatment option than dialysis for most people with kidney disease. If dialysis is done well, it can be very effective in treating kidney disease. However, a live kidney transplant will give the recipient a much more independent, active and usually longer life.

About 19 out of 20 live kidney transplants are working well 1 year after the operation. About 10 out of 20 live kidney transplants will still be working well after 15 years.

The best time for a person with kidney disease to get a live kidney transplant is just before they start dialysis. This is called a pre-emptive transplant.

On average, people only live for 4–5 years after they start dialysis, although some people can live for much longer..

Who can I donate to?

You can donate a kidney to a member of your family, a friend or, if you agree, your kidney will be used in the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange Program (ANZKX).

Donating to someone you know, like a family member or a friend, is called directed donation. This is because you ‘direct’ that your kidney goes to a particular recipient. 

Donating to someone you don’t know is called altruistic or non-directed donation. In this case, you cannot say who receives your kidney. The kidney is given to the most suitable person on the kidney transplant waiting list or you may be able to start a kidney exchange chain of transplants.