Donor kidneys come from two sources. The first source is deceased donors, which typically are from individuals who have had strokes or head injuries. There are not enough deceased donor organs to meet the need for transplantation.
Ralph is on multiple deceased donor lists which have average wait times of 4-7 years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 18 people a day die waiting for their transplant. The second source is from a living donor. This has multiple benefits such as the ability to plan the transplant, knowledge of the medical condition of the organ, and better results. Kidneys from living donors tend to work better and last longer than those from deceased donors.
The most common source of living kidney donors is from immediate family. Ralph has two sons, both have been diagnosed with PKD and thus are not eligible to be donors. Ralph has one sister but she was ruled out as a donor for medical reasons. Velina's grandaughter and two friends were also willing to donate but were ruled out for various reasons. Ralph needs to find that special person willing to give the gift of life.
A donor needs to be someone in good health that does not have diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, or who was a drug user. A kidney from a living donor lasts significantly longer (roughly 2 ½ times) than one from a deceased donor.
Ralph has Type O blood although a matching blood type is NOT a requirement for living kidney donation. It is possible to donate even when blood or tissue types do not match. If you are not a match, there are donor exchange programs.
A potential living donor undergoes an extensive medial evaluation AT NO COST. Most of these evaluations can be done at your local medical center.
Living donors are in the hospital on average 1-2 days and are often able to return to work within about 3 weeks after donation.
There is no age limit for transplantation from a donor.
Donating a kidney does not make you more prone to having kidney issues in the future.