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Living Organ Donation

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What's the process for making an organ donation? continued...

Here are the steps for making a donation:

  • Contact the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) at 1-888-894-6361 or go online at www.unos.org to get more information and to locate the nearest transplant center.
  • Learn about the risks. Risks vary with the organ donated and from person to person.
  • Complete a medical evaluation that includes these tests:
    • A cross-match for transplant. This is a blood test that shows whether the recipient's body will reject your donor organ immediately. The cross-match will mix your blood with the recipient's blood to see if proteins in the recipient's blood might attack your donated organ. If they do, you are not a good match with the recipient.
    • Antibody screen. This test measures whether you or the recipient has antibodies against a broad range of people. If either of you does, it means there is a higher risk of rejection, even if the cross-match shows that you and the organ recipient are a good match.
    • Blood type. This is a blood test that shows which type of blood you have—type A, B, O, or AB. Your blood type should be compatible with the organ recipient's blood type. But it is sometimes possible to transplant an organ between people with different blood types.
    • Tissue type. This is a blood test that shows the genetic makeup of your body's cells. The more traits you share with the organ recipient, the more likely it is that his or her body will accept your donated organ.
    • A mental health assessment. Many emotional issues are involved in donating an organ. A mental health assessment takes a careful look at your emotional health and how donation would affect you and your family. It will also show if you understand your own interests, the future effects on your health, and whether you're feeling pressure to donate from another person or from a sense of obligation.

Two types of surgery are commonly used to remove an organ or a portion of an organ from a living donor.

  • Open surgery involves cutting the skin, muscles, and tissues to remove the organ. When open surgery is done, the person may have more pain and a longer recovery time.
  • Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon makes a number of small incisions and uses scopes to remove the organ from a living donor.

Throughout the planning process, know that it's never too late to change your mind about donating an organ. Talk with your IDA and others you trust to be sure you're making the right decision for you. Your long-term health is just as important as that of the person who will receive your donation.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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