Can I Donate a Kidney if I'm Not a Match?

Learn about donating your kidney if your blood type doesn't match the recipient's blood type and how paired donation programs work.

Can I Donate a Kidney if I'm Not a Match?

If your blood type is not compatible with the intended recipient, you may still be able to donate a kidney through a partner exchange program. Paired exchange programs allow you to obtain a kidney from another donor that is not compatible with the intended recipient. It is rare to find a six-antigen compatibility between two people, especially if they are not related. Kidneys can be successfully transplanted between two people without matching antigens.

A person can make antibodies against someone else's HLA antigens. Antibodies can result from blood transfusions, pregnancies, infections, or even a viral illness. If a recipient has potent HLA antibodies from a donor, the risk of rejection is high and the donor would refuse treatment by that recipient. Being a compatible blood group is just one part of knowing if a person will be compatible.

You can still donate your organs even if you don't belong to a compatible blood group. The Rh factor is not important for kidney compatibility. In a paired donor exchange, two kidney recipients essentially exchange donors willing to do so. While medically eligible to donate, each donor has a blood type or antigens that are incompatible with those of their intended recipient.

By accepting the exchange of recipients who deliver the kidney to an unknown but compatible person, donors can provide two patients with healthy kidneys in which a transplant would not have been possible before. If you have a living donor, but that person's kidney is not compatible with you, you can still receive a kidney transplant from a living donor. If you want to be a living donor, you'll need to have a medical exam with blood tests to make sure you're healthy enough to donate a kidney. If you have two healthy kidneys, you may be able to donate one of your kidneys to a person with kidney failure.

Another way to donate a kidney while you're alive is to donate it to someone you don't necessarily know through a kidney exchange. Kidney exchanges allow incompatible donors to donate to unknown individuals, in exchange for a compatible kidney that can help loved ones or family members.Today, approximately 75% of people who receive a kidney transplant from a living donor maintain their kidney function for 10 to 20 years. Both you and the recipient of the kidney (the person who received it) can live with only one healthy kidney. Recipients of a living donor kidney tend to live longer and healthier lives compared to those who receive a kidney from a deceased donor (a kidney from a person who has just died).

As a kidney donor, the risk of having kidney failure later in life is no higher than that of a person in the general population of similar age, sex, or race.If you are healthy and your antibodies and blood group match well with those of the person receiving the kidney, you may be approved to donate the kidney. You should also meet with a psychologist and an independent living donor advocate to ensure that you are mentally and emotionally prepared to donate one of your kidneys.The American Kidney Fund (AKF) works on behalf of those living with kidney disease, providing support for prevention and life after transplantation. Receiving a kidney transplant may mean the possibility of living longer and healthier without dialysis.

Morris Bievenue
Morris Bievenue

Total internet geek. Hipster-friendly creator. Alcohol trailblazer. Certified food scholar. Alcohol expert. Extreme introvert.

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