Making the Decision
Making the decision to become a living kidney donor is probably one of the biggest decisions a person can make during their lifetime.
The decision must be a well-informed one that is “right” for the potential donor. Whether the potential donor is asked to consider donating one of their kidneys, or comes forward of their own accord, it is natural to have some concerns about the decision. There are many factors to consider including the risks and benefits of donation, and the emotional and practical impact the donation will have on the donor, their family, work and social life.
More than one potential donor? Sometimes there is more than one willing donor for a specific recipient. For example, several family members or friends may be willing donors and suitable candidates. To see who might be best suited to donate their kidney, all aspects of living donation must be considered: physical, emotional, financial and practical. The healthcare team will help with the evaluation.
People to talk to. The final decision belongs to the donor alone. But getting some informed help, and discussing thoughts, feelings and questions can help the donor to see just how prepared they are to donate a kidney. People to talk with include:
- Family members
- Close friends
- Religious or spiritual advisor
- Financial advisor
- Someone who has donated a kidney. The Kidney Foundation’s KIDNEY CONNECT Peer Support Program matches potential living donors with someone who has had the experience of donating a kidney.
- Someone who has received a living kidney donation
- Members of a living donor support group
- Social worker or counsellor with the transplant team
- Any and all other members of the healthcare team
Some questions for the potential donor to consider.
- How much do I know about living kidney donation?
- What are the benefits and risks to me personally?
- How would the donation affect my family and me financially?
- Will I still be able to get health insurance and life insurance? What about disability insurance?
- What are the implications of losing salary or wages for time off work? Will my employer provide sick leave?
- Is my job physically demanding? How long will it take after surgery to resume working?
- What is my relationship with the recipient? Will it be different afterwards?
- Who will take care of my regular household responsibilities during evaluation, surgery and recovery? Child care and pet care responsibilities? Household chores? Cleaning and cooking? Transportation?
Choosing to donate. Once the decision is made to donate a kidney, the surgery is scheduled and both parties are admitted to the hospital for final testing before the surgery. If at that time there are concerns about the health of the donor or the recipient, the surgery may be postponed or cancelled.
Choosing not to donate. If a potential donor chooses not to donate, the healthcare team will support and respect this decision. They will also help the person communicate the decision to the potential recipient and family members in such as way as to preserve harmony.
Changing your mind. The donor can change their mind at any time during the evaluation process and the decision will be supported by the healthcare team.