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Understanding living donation

A living organ donor is someone who donates a kidney or part of their liver to another person. The most common is someone donating a kidney to a relative or close friend who has end-stage kidney disease. Living donor liver transplants are much rarer.

Living donors can be:

  • a blood relative of the person (parents, siblings, adult children)
  • someone who is not related by blood but knows the person, like a partner or friend
  • an anonymous donor who donates a kidney to a person on the transplant waiting list.

Living donor - Kidney and liver transplants

Living donors go through extensive testing to check their suitability to donate. Donors must be in good physical and psychological health.

Kidney transplants are managed by transplant teams working in public hospitals. Some transplants are also managed as part of the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange program. This program helps to match incompatible kidney donor and recipient pairs with other incompatible pairs across Australia and New Zealand.

Living donor liver transplants are less common than living kidney transplants because the donation is much riskier. When it does occur, it usually involves a parent donating a part of their liver to their child. Adult-to-adult living liver transplants are rare.

Living donor - Bone tissue

People may be able to donate their bone tissue if they are undergoing joint replacement surgery.

Support for living organ donors

People who become a living organ donor need time to have the necessary tests and to recover after the operation.

Taking time off work may cause financial stress. Financial support is available from the Australian Government’s Supporting Living Organ Donors Program.

More information

We have Information for patients about the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange program.

Kidney Health Australia provides helpful information and a helpline.