Sarah Stone, LCSW, is The Living Bank’s Living Donor Advocate and is licensed as a counselor. She follows the living donor through surgery, recovery and for as long as needed to provide support through individual or group counseling.

Federal regulations require transplant programs to appoint an independent donor advocate to ensure safe evaluation and care of living donors.

A living donor advocate’s role in counseling potential living donors includes but is not limited to:

  • Identifying potential emotional risks to the donor.
  • Determining whether the donor is capable of making the decision to donate and cope with the stress of a major surgery.
  • Exploring rationale for donation to be sure the donor is free of pressure or guilt.
  • Discussing how donation might impact the donor’s job or family relations.
  • Reviewing nature of the relationship between donor and recipient.
  • Determining the support systems that are in place for recovery.
  • Ensuring donor understands risks of complications, recovery phase, and financial aspects of donation.
  • Reinforcing that the transplant center will not discuss the donor evaluation with the recipient.

Benefits of Living Donation

  • Kidneys from living donors usually work immediately in recipients in comparison to kidneys from deceased donors.
  • A living donor makes it possible to schedule the transplant at a time that is convenient for the donor and the transplant candidate.
  • The newer, laparoscopic kidney donation surgery is less invasive and involves smaller incisions. This type of surgery can help to decrease recovery time for the donor.

Data on Living Donation

There is limited long-term data available on how living donors do over time. A study published in 2010 in the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), examined the mortality of more than 80,000 live kidney donors between 1994 and 2009.
  “Researchers found that live donors death rates over six years were no higher than the rates for similar individuals who had not donated a kidney.”

The gift of an organ can save the life of a transplant candidate. What better gift to give than the gift of life.