Give The Gift of Life

Become a Living Kidney Donor

Be a living kidney donor and give someone on the kidney transplant list a second chance at life.

“Donating a kidney to my friend was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.  The alternative was seeing her suffer and maybe even die because I had a healthy kidney she needed, that I didn’t. I’ll never regret sharing my spare”. 

Liz M., Living Kidney Donor

Why are living kidney donors needed?

There aren’t enough kidneys available for the people who need one. The numbers say it all:

Over 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for a kidney transplant.

In 2021, only 24,669 people received a kidney.

Over 75,000 individuals did not receive a kidney and are still waiting.

The transplant waiting list keeps growing: every 14 minutes, someone new joins the list.

The transplant waiting list keeps growing: every 14 minutes, someone new joins the list.

The average wait time for a deceased donor kidney is 3-5 years and can be up to 8-10 years.

About 13 people on the transplant list die EVERY DAY waiting for a kidney.

People living with kidney failure are running out of time. Treatment options to keep them alive are limited. Living kidney donation is the best option.

Visit Team Share a Spare to read stories of what it’s like to be a living kidney donor from people who’ve done it.  Over half of them didn’t even know their recipient. They just wanted to save a life.

Janice donated her kidney to Pam in 2017. Celebrating the gift of life one year later!

I’m interested in being a living donor and saving a life. Now what?

Thank you for considering giving the gift of life! Your next step is to contact a hospital transplant center. A transplant coordinator will answer all your questions and guide you through the process. In the Cincinnati/Tri-State area, the transplant centers are:

University of Cincinnati Medical Center
513.584.7001, Option #4

The Christ Hospital Health Network

If you’re outside of Cincinnati, contact us,  and we’ll help you find a transplant center near you. 

“I donated a kidney to my mom so she could live the life she deserves. She has five children and 11 grandchildren-we want her to be a part of our lives!  Being a kidney donor taught me “the more you give, the more you get”. What did I get? More compassion and empathy and a new focus on making the most out of life!”

Mimi M., Living Kidney Donor

Want to learn more?

Keep reading to learn what it’s like to live with kidney failure, the treatment options available, and why living kidney donation is the best option for people who need a kidney transplant.

The reality of living with kidney failure

Like we need our heart, lungs, and other organs, we need our kidneys to live. Kidneys:

Filter blood to remove wastes

Circulate water and chemicals in the body

Release hormones that control blood pressure and spur the production of red blood cells.  

People with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), the last stage of kidney failure, are very sick. When kidneys aren’t doing what their body needs them to, people struggle with chronic fatigue, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Without treatment, people with ESRD will die.

People in kidney failure have two treatment options: dialysis or a kidney transplant.  These two options are treatments, not a cure. Because over 100,000 individuals are waiting for a kidney transplant, many must go on dialysis while waiting for a kidney to become available.


Dialysis uses a machine to filter and remove excess water, proteins, and toxins from the blood in people whose kidneys can no longer do it on their own.

When someone’s on dialysis, they’re connected to a machine at a dialysis center three times a week for four hours. It’s a shorter amount of time every day if they’re doing it at home or overnight while sleeping. Dialysis can be hard on everyone:

It hurts the whole family’s quality of life. 

It’s hard to work a regular schedule when you’re on dialysis. Many people have to quit their jobs, which adds financial stress.

People on dialysis have to restrict what they eat and drink.

Dialysis often leaves people too tired to do anything else.

People on dialysis have twice the rate of depression as the general population.

About 65% of people die after being on dialysis for five years.

Kidney transplant

A kidney transplant is a surgery to place a healthy kidney in someone whose kidneys no longer work. The transplanted kidney does the work of a normal, healthy kidney, filtering the blood for waste and excess fluid. 

People with ESRD who’ve undergone medical and psychological testing and been approved by a transplant team are eligible for a transplant. After someone has a kidney transplant, they take medicine daily to help keep their transplanted kidney working at its best.

Not everyone with kidney failure is eligible for a kidney transplant.  But for those who are, a transplant is always the best option. A kidney transplant is a second chance at life:

It helps people get back to doing the things they love. 

Most people don’t have to limit what they eat or drink after a transplant.

Almost 99% of people who receive a living donor kidney are alive one year later. After five years, the survival rate is 92%.

Types of kidney donations

Deceased donation- is when someone donates a kidney after they die. Deceased donor kidneys go to people on the national organ transplant waiting list. If you haven’t already, register to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor when you get or renew your driver’s license or at Donate Life America.

Living donation- is when a healthy person chooses to donate a kidney to someone who needs a kidney transplant.  A living donor may or may not know the recipient. There are two types of living donation:

  • Direct donation is when a donor and recipient have compatible blood and tissue type.
  • Non-directed donation/paired kidney exchange occurs when a donor is willing to donate, but they are incompatible with the person they want to donate to. With paired kidney exchange, a donor donates their kidney to another recipient in exchange for a compatible kidney for their intended recipient. That means two people on the transplant list receive the gift of life.

“Donating a kidney was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. It allowed my mom to have extra time to enjoy her friends, family and do the things she loved to do without having to worry about dialysis. Being a donor changed my life professionally.  I am able to share my passion for transplant with my patients as a transplant coordinator.  I am grateful that I can continue to be an advocate for organ donation.”

Nicole H, Living Kidney Donor

Why living donation is best

Anyone waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant is grateful for a matching kidney, whether it’s from a deceased or living donor.  However, there are significant benefits to receiving a kidney from a living donor.

On average, a kidney from a living donor lasts longer—15-20 years versus 8-12 years for a deceased donor kidney.

Finding a living kidney donor can significantly decrease an individual’s wait time on the transplant list.  Most people wait 3-5 years for a deceased donor kidney. Living kidney donation speeds up the process of finding a donor, having transplant surgery, and getting off the list and on to living life.

A living kidney donation can keep someone off dialysis or shorten the time they’re on dialysis. Plus, transplanted kidneys do better if someone never starts dialysis or is on it for a short time.

Kidneys from a living kidney donor are often a better genetic match, which may reduce the risk of organ rejection.

A living donor kidney is more likely to start working immediately after a transplant. Deceased donor kidneys can be “sleepy” and take time to “wake up” and start working. 

Living donors save lives by giving the gift of life to someone waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant!

Did you know that 1 in 750 people are born with only one kidney and live a full, healthy life? You can “share your spare” and still live a full, active life.

Jenny donated her kidney to Allison, giving her a second chance at life.
Jenny donated her kidney to Allison, giving her a second chance at life.
Scroll to Top