There are over 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a living kidney or liver. This is over 95 percent of the National Transplant Waiting List.
Living organ donation first emerged in 1954, when a kidney from one twin was successfully transplanted into his brother. It has become an increasingly important way to help confront the shortage of organs available for transplants, reduce wait times for recipients, and give people a second chance at a fuller, more independent life.
Donors specify to whom they want to donate an organ. They can include biological relatives; a biologically unrelated individual connected to the potential recipient, such as a spouse, friend, or co-worker; or a biologically unrelated person who has heard about someone in need of a transplant.
Donors give to an anonymous recipient on the national waiting list. Altruistic donors may also participate in a kidney chain. In a kidney chain your kidney is transplanted into a recipient who had a donor willing to give a kidney, but whose donor was not a match for them. This means your one donation can allow for many other donations to happen.
This involves two or more pairs of living kidney donors and recipients who are not medically compatible. The transplant candidates swap donors so that each receives an organ from someone with a matching blood type.