About the Kidney Donor Evaluation

Kidney Donors must go through an extensive medical and psychosocial evaluation to ensure that undergoing elective surgery is safe AND that there are no health issues that put the donor at increased risk of developing kidney disease in their lives.

The potential kidney donor will be evaluated at the center where their intended/matched veteran recipient receives medical care. Non VA centers usually do not cover cost of travel, however, the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC) can often help. The social workers or coordinators at the non VA centers will be able to inquire on any donors behalf. Should there be a gap in coverage, DOVE has resources to help. DOVE wants to ensure that donors incurs no out-of-pocket expenses as a result of their donation. If a donor cannot travel to the intended recipient’s center there are options such as remote donation or an alternate recipient, in closer proximity to donor, can be located.

A comprehensive donor medical evaluation is paid for by the veteran’s insurance coverage or the transplant facility.

A donor should expect to undergo a one to two-day evaluation at the transplant center. During this visit the donor will meet with the interdisciplinary kidney donor team. This team consists of:

  • Donor Coordinator — The coordinator will be your point person and manage all aspects of the evaluation
  • Nephrologist — An MD who specializes in kidney disease
  • Social Worker — The SW makes sure you are emotionally and logistically able to donate and can advocate for resources if needed.
  • Donor Surgeon — Will perform your donor nephrectomy

Lastly, you will meet with:

  • Donor Advocate — The Advocate ensures you are under no undo external or internal pressure in donating. The ILDA is independent of the rest of the team.

In addition to meeting with the donor team – all donors will undergo lab work and have to provide samples of blood and urine in order to assess their own kidney function and rule out any health concerns. Their blood work will also confirm blood type and genetic tissue typing which determines compatibility with potential recipients.

The final tests included in a standard donor evaluation are imaging and diagnostic tests of the abdomen and the heart.

These tests include:

  • Cat Scan or MRI to assess anatomy of kidneys and vasculature
  • Chest X-ray to assess lungs
  • Cardiac tests (depending on age there are different tests to assess the health of the heart)

Amanda, kidney donor in evaluation, with the 24-hour urine jug

Photo: Amanda, a kidney donor in evaluation, with the infamous 24 hour urine jug!