About Living-Donor Organ Transplantation

Since organ transplant surgery began, the number of seriously ill patients waiting for an organ has steadily gone up. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) registry has more than 106,000 people waiting for an organ.

Unfortunately, the need for organs exceeds the number of organs available.

Most people think of organ donation as something you can do when you die. But surgeons have found a way to use organs donated by people who are alive.

  • During a living-donor liver transplant, a surgeon removes part of a healthy adult’s liver. They transplant that part into a patient who has end-stage liver disease. Both livers can grow to full size again in just a few months. This leaves both the living donor and the recipient with whole, healthy livers.
  • During a living-donor kidney transplant, a surgeon removes one of two kidneys from a healthy adult. They transplant one kidney into a patient with end-stage kidney disease. Both the donor and patient can live a perfectly healthy life with just one working kidney.

Fill Out Our Form to See if You Qualify to be a Living Donor

How to be a Living Kidney Donor

Fill out the questionnaire below to become a living kidney donor

How to be a Living Liver Donor

Fill out the questionnaire below to become a living liver donor

Who Can Be a Living Donor

To be a living donor:

  • You can be a family member, friend or even a stranger who is willing to help.
  • You need to be physically and mentally healthy, with no history of illnesses involving any major organs.
  • You do not have to have the same blood type as a patient on the transplant list.

Benefits of a Living-Donor Transplant

Living-donor transplants help save the lives of people with end-stage liver or kidney disease.

Living donors have the rare chance to save someone’s life. They can see their friend or loved one return to health and happiness, or know that a stranger will return to their loved ones.

Patients who get a living-donor transplant spend less time on the transplant waiting list. That means they are usually healthier at the time of transplant. This often leads to better outcomes and a faster recovery.

Compared to those who get an organ from a deceased donor, patients who get a living-donor transplant tend to:

  • Live longer
  • Have a donated organ that works better
  • Have fewer complications

How to be a Living Kidney Donor

Start by filling out a Health History Questionnaire.

How to be a Living Liver Donor

Start by filling out a Health History Questionnaire.

Transplant in the News

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Learn more about our transplant services, expertise and patients though:

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Locations & Contact Information

    Educational Videos for Living Donor Organ Transplantation

    Videos for living organ transplantation donors and recipients.

    Voices of Better Medicine: Living Donor Organ Transplantation

    Juan Caicedo Ramirez, MD, surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Liver Transplant Program, discusses the living donor organ transplant process, the Northwestern Medicine Living Donor Program and what a patient can expect when they get a liver transplant.

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    Looking for a Second Opinion?

    It's vital that you're comfortable with your treatment decision and have confidence in your doctor. For these reasons, a second opinion with another specialist can help you make smart treatment decisions.

    Related Resources



    • Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network: Website of the not-for-profit organ procurement organization that works with hospitals and donor families in the northern three-fourths of Illinois and northwest Indiana. The organization is responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for medical transplantation in the service area, as well as for professional and public education on organ and tissue donation.
    • US Transplant—Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR): The SRTR supports the ongoing evaluation of the scientific and clinical status of solid organ transplantation in the United States.
    • Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN): OPTN is a unique public-private partnership that links all of the professionals involved in the donation and transplantation system. Its goals are to increase the supply of donated organs available for transplantation and the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
    • Coalition on Donation: The organization promotes organ donation and provides education about it.
    • MedlinePlus: This is a trusted source that covers all aspects of organ donation and provides easy access to medical journal articles, extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials and the latest health news.
    • National Organ and Tissue Donation InitiativeThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking this initiative to ease the critical shortage of organ and tissue donors by building a national community of organ sharing.
    • Transplant Village: Giving Back to Northwestern Medicine: Transplant Village is a community of organ recipients, donors and family members who have had their lives touched and changed by the Northwestern Medicine Organ Transplant Center. With efforts managed by the Northwestern Medicine Transplant Advisory Council, this group has come together to create a network of resources and support and to raise funds for research and patient care at our affiliated hospitals.
    • United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS): Through the UNOS Organ Center, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Through its policies, UNOS ensures that all patients have a fair chance at receiving the organ they need—regardless of age, sex, race, lifestyle, religion, or financial or social status. UNOS members include every transplant program, organ procurement organization and tissue typing laboratory in the United States.

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