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Emotionally-Related Donor Transplantation

Kidney Donation from a Friend

If immediate family members are unable to donate, kidneys for transplant can also come from emotionally related donors. An emotionally related donor is someone who knows the patient, but is not a genetic relative. For example, an emotionally related donor could be a spouse, friend, in-law, stepparent, child or sibling, adoptive parent, child, or sibling, etc. The most common emotionally related donor is a spouse. Successful outcomes with spousal transplants are related in part to the immune tolerance that seems to develop between spouses.

Whether a family member or an emotionally related donor, the first step in identifying the right donor is to determine compatibility. Tissue and blood testing will determine if a potential donor and recipient are a match. A closer genetic match will lessen the likelihood of rejection. The donor will undergo tests to assure he or she can live a healthy life with the remaining kidney. A donor's medical costs will be the responsibility the recipient, and are often covered by a recipients medical insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.