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Nondirected living-donor transplant

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 4, 2022.


A nondirected living donor is a living person who donates an organ, usually a kidney, and does not name or have an intended recipient. The organ is donated as a gift with no expectations of return and no connections between the donor and transplant recipient.

Nondirected donors are also referred to as good Samaritan or altruistic donors. The transplant recipient is determined by medical compatibility and need.

A nondirected living donor may also participate in paired organ donation or organ donation chains to help match incompatible pairs. This process often results in a chain of transplants with multiple candidates benefiting from the nondirected donor's gift.

Paired-organ donation

In paired-organ donation, living donors and their recipients aren't compatible for a transplant. However, the donor of each pair is compatible with the recipient of the other pair. If both donors and recipients are willing, doctors may consider a paired-organ donation.

Living-donor organ donation chain

More than one pair of incompatible living donors and recipients may be linked with a nondirected living donor to form a donation chain in order to receive compatible organs.

Why it's done

Nondirected living organ donors have become increasingly important in recent years to meet a growing need for organs for transplant and fill a shortage of available organs from deceased organ donors.

Nondirected living organ donors are often vital to linking several pairs of incompatible donor and recipient pairs to form a donation chain.

Like other types of living-donor organ transplant, nondirected living-donor organ transplant offers several benefits to the donation recipient, including less time spent on a waiting list, fewer health complications before transplant because of the shorter wait, and better survival rates after transplant.

What you can expect

To become a nondirected living organ donor, your transplant center will evaluate your overall health and perform several tests to determine your eligibility as a living organ donor.

The vast majority of nondirected living organ donations involve donating a single kidney. It is possible to donate a portion of your liver as a nondirected living organ donor, but this is extremely rare because of the risk the procedure may pose to the donor.

Once approved as a donor, your procedure will be scheduled, and the organ will be placed for distribution through the established organ allocation system.

The donated organ will be matched with a transplant candidate based on several factors, including organ compatibility, medical need and waiting list status.

If the transplant center's policy allows it and the recipient agrees, you may choose to meet the recipient or remain anonymous.

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