There are multiple options available for those that need kidney transplant. I’m glad you asked about this. It sounds like you have some concern about finding a potential kidney donor because of your small family. It may be helpful to understand that a donated kidney does not always need to come from a family member. Listed below are several options:
• Deceased donor is when the kidney is donated after someone dies. It is matched to the patient on a waitlist from a computerized list and is based on blood type and how long the person has been waiting. Sometimes the waiting period to receive a deceased donor kidney can be several years.
• Living donation may be from someone unrelated. A donated kidney can come from someone you know socially or have a connection with in some way. Sometimes donated kidneys come from someone who hears about the situation/need and decides to donate to someone they do not know.
• A non-directed (altruistic) living donation happens when the donor does not designate a specific person to get the transplant. The person decides to donate a kidney, and a match is arranged based on medical compatibility to the person in need.
• Paired donation involves two pairs of living kidney donors and transplant candidates that do not have matching blood types. The donors trade in order to match with someone that is compatible. Swapping donors typically involves multiple living donor/recipient candidates.
• Kidney Desensitization can help those people that need a kidney that have a living donor that they don’t match. The same antibodies that protect us from infection may also determine how well a kidney recipient's body accepts or rejects foreign tissue. Desensitization removes these antibodies improving the chance that the kidney will not be rejected.
Check out these resources to read more:
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS):
How the Transplant System Works: Matching Donors and Recipients
Living Donation Option
List of Patient Brochures
LivingKidney Donors Network – www.lkdn.org
University of Michigan Kidney Desensitization Program
Hope this helps! Becky RN OCN