What does a kidney donation involve? - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

What does a kidney donation involve?

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Earlier this week Wake Up Montana introduced you to Effie Kimp, a Montana woman searching for a kidney.

Since the story ran we've had questions from viewers about how the kidney donation process works and what they can do to help. Evelyn Schultz spoke with a doctor at Billings Clinic to get some of those questions answered. 

"It really is a gift of life that passes on to other people, and we get to see the outcomes of that, and people do great and get to see their families and grandkids afterwards," says nephrologist Heather McGuire. 


If you want to donate a kidney to a person in a transplant program, Dr. McGuire says matching blood types are the biggest hurdle.

Your primary care doctor can help you figure out your type, if you don't already know. If that's a match, the process continues. 

Dr. McGuire says typically organ donors must be over 18, meet a weight limit and be mentally and physically healthy. You'll work with the organ's recipient's team at the site of the organ donation as the process continues. In Montana and Wyoming, that means working with doctors in places like Washington, Utah and Minnesota. 

The process will most likely include a phone interview, a blood kit, a CAT scan as well as meetings with a surgeon, social worker, dietitian and nurse. 

If the team approves the match, they will then set a date for the surgery. 


Dr. McGuire says a history of smoking and drinking doesn't necessarily disqualify you from donating.

Many people searching for organs, including Effie, already have funds to cover things like travel expenses. That's because the organ recipient's insurance only covers the cost of surgery, not travel or time off work for the donor, according to Dr. McGuire. 

However, Dr. McGuire says most employers will be flexible and willing to work with donors to make sure it's not an issue. 

Finally, she says don't let the idea of surgery scare you away. She says it's an easy surgery with minimal recovery time, similar to getting a gall bladder removed. 

There are currently around 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a kidney donation. About 20,000 kidney donations are done each year. Of those, about 5,000 are living donors. 


National Kidney Foundation

LifeCenter Northwest