1 (833) 4-ToLive
Nonprofit living donor advocate offering simple, straightforward financial aid grants for non-medical living donor expenses.
1 (833) 4-ToLive
FreetoLive is a registered dba of Living Donor Support Network, a qualified CA 501(c)3 nonprofit living donor advocate offering straightforward no-repay financial aid to US-based living donors for non-medical living donor transplant surgery-related expenses.
FreetoLive was established in 2021 when our Founder hit walls and was denied nonprofit financial aid help with his non-medical living donor expenses for reasons that would also disqualify 1000's of other perfectly healthy, willing living donors every year.
To educate the youth of this nation about renal disease, living organ donation and living donor financial aid option so they not only check the organ donor box on their license, but might one day decide to be a living donor because they were educated on the options.
The answer is yes, you can likely be a living donor! It’s a common misconception that only family members can be a living donors. This is patently false. There are many different types of living donors. Often, it’s not a blood relative at all, or even someone known to the recipient who donates a lifesaving organ. This type of living donoris known as an altruistic living donor. The most basic qualification allliving donors must have with their recipient is a similar blood type.
Generally speaking, if you have thesame blood type as your recipient, you’re over 18, in good general health, financially and mentally stable, and have normal kidney function and anatomy, you can submit your information to be considered as a possible living donor candidate.
Check with hospital or transplant center living donor advocate where the transplant surgery will occut for their living donor requirements as guidelines for living organ donors between hospitals and transplant centers can vary slightly.
The testing and approval process for a living donor is relatively simple and straightforward. Once your living donor application is accepted by the hospital or transplant center, you will be asked to submit urine and blood samples for testing. If you live in a different state or more than 10-15 miles from the hospital or transplant center where the living donor transplant surgery will occur, the hospital or transplant center will typically issue a prescription where you can have your tests done, closer to your home. Quest Diagnostics is a commonly used lab location by many hospital and transplant centers, but there are many other approved labs in every state. Check with your living donor advocate at your hospital or transplant center for the lab nearest to your location.
These tests check for certain living donor genetic markers and specific numbers in your urine and blood labs to ensure you are healthy, have adequate kidney function and can survive just fine on one kidney alone. Most hospitals and transplant centers require living donors to be in a stable environment with a solid family and social network support system.
Finally, the hospital or transplant center will expect a potential living donor to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the organ donation process, the risks involved in the surgery, potential long-term changes to your diet and meds you take, and the need for follow-up visits after donation.
There will be variations in testing and approval processes in every state and between every hospital or transplant center. Each has slightly different guidelines. Be sure to check with them to fully understand what will be expected of you as a living donorcandidate. Again, if you have the same blood type as your recipient you are already a prime candidate so don't be discouraged. After that, so long as you’re over 18, in good general health, financially and mentally stable, and have normal kidney function and anatomy, you can submit your information to be considered as a possible living donorcandidate.
Note: Hospitals and transplant centers may have different guidelines regarding smoking, drinking, meds, and they may have diet, physical fitness and other requirements or expectations other hospitals or transplant centers do not have. You should always check with the living donor advocate assigned to your case at your hospital or transplant center for a comprehensive list of their specific living donor requirements or expectations.
The answer to this question isn’t so precise. The testing and approval process for living donors varies across the nation and depends on many factors. For instance, the hospital or transplant center performing the transplant surgery in your case or state may have lab scheduling issues that can add weeks to the testing and approval process. COVID-19 is a factor in many cases these days. Across the nation, hospitals and transplant centers are dealing with a pandemic, and each has their own COVID restrictions and scheduling guidelines. Working around these issues and guidelines may add weeks to the testing and approval process. There are other factors too, such as your schedule, your location and proximity to the hospital, transplant center or lab, your work schedule or availability to get to a lab.
Barring any unforeseen scheduling issues with your or your availability, COVID restrictions, etc., the living donor testing and approval process should be relatively simple and fast. Our Founder and Executive Director, Glenn Cogan went through the living donor approval process in his hometown of San Diego, CA June – August 2021. We have provide a close approximation of his timeline below (within 1-2 days) of his testing and approval process from when he learned of the need, to the date of his living donor transplant surgery:
⬤ Day 1 – 8:00pm, Monday, June 14, 2021 – Glenn learns a family member is diagnosed terminal with end-stage renal kidney failure and is in desperate need of a kidney donor.
⬤ Day 1 – 9:00pm, Monday June 14, 2021 – Glenn verifies he shares a similar blood type (A) with the relative and complete the UT Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX) online living donor application.
⬤ Day 3 – 2:00pm, Thursday June 17, 2021 – UT Southwestern Dallas notifies Glenn he is a good potential living donor candidate and sends him a prescription to visit Quest (in CA) for blood and urine labs.
⬤ Day 25 – 7:00am, Monday July 12, 2021 – Glenn visits Quest Diagnostics CA for initial blood and urine labs and takes overnight supplies for 24 Creatinine (Urine) test. *Glenn purposely delayed these labs to eat right, exercise, hydrate and flush his system for best outcome.
⬤ Day 26 – 8:00am Monday July 12, 2021 – Quest Diagnostics lab results start posting to Glenn's UT Southwestern MyChart.
⬤ Day 27 – 2:00pm, Wednesday July 14, 2021 – UT Southwestern Dallas contacts Glenn to discuss lab results. All labs come back good, except his creatinine levels. Glenn was drinking a water/cranberry juice mixture to hydrate and flush his system. Since cranberry juice is a diuretic, it was flushing water from his system faster than his healthy kidneys could process and remove toxins. *Being hydrated is good, but stick with water (only), and only drink what you need (approx. 8 glasses daily). Overhydrating or hydrating with anything other than water can adversely affect lab results.
⬤ Day 27 – 2:00pm, Wednesday July 14, 2021 – UT Southwestern recommends removing cranberry juice from hydrating program to be tested again and sends a new prescription to Quest (in CA) for Glenn to get a new round of labs.
⬤ Day 28 – Thursday July 15, 2021 – Glenn and his family leave on their annual summer vacation trip to Lake Tulloch, CA. (6-days)
⬤ Day 34 – 7:00am, Thursday July 22, 2021 – Glenn returns to Quest Diagnostics CA for 2nd round of blood and urine labs and takes overnight supplies for 24 Creatinine (Urine) test.
⬤ Day 35 – 9:00am Friday July 23, 2021 – 2nd round of Quest Diagnostics lab results start posting to Glenn's UT Southwestern MyChart.
⬤ Day 39 – 3:00pm Tuesday July 27, 2021 – UT Southwestern contacts Glenn to let him know, "all signs indicate you are a match>" Waiting on one last test. Glenn's living donor advocate at UT Southwestern Dallas "Elizabeth" starts sending over informational videos, disclosures, consent forms, releases, and other legal docs requiring signatures. Glenn still does not have a final "yes!", but it is looking very promising at this point.
⬤ Day 40 – 7:00am Friday July 30, 2021 – UT Southwestern Dallas contacts Glenn to invite him to UT Southwestern Dallas August 11, 2021 for pre-op labs, physical exams, eys exams, psych and social worker counseling, meetings with transplant team, MRI's, CT Scans, echocardiograms, stress echo, ultra sounds...
⬤ Day 51 – 6:00am Monday August 9, 2021 – Glenn departs San Diego International Airport CA for UT Southwestern Dallas pre-op labs, tests, counseling, etc.
⬤ Day 52 – 5:00am Tuesday August 10, 2021 – Glenn checks into UT Southwestern Dallas pre-op labs, tests, counseling, etc.
⬤ Day 53 – 12:00am Wednesday August 11, 2021 – UT Southwestern lab results start posting to Glenn's UT Southwestern MyChart.
⬤ Day 53 – 6:00am Wednesday August 11, 2021 – Glenn departs Dallas Love Field, TX Airport home in San Diego, CA to await final test and lab results.
⬤ Day 61 – 5:00pm Thursday August 19, 2021 – UT Southwestern Dallas contacts Glenn to inform him the UT Southwestern Medical Center Board has reviewed all labs and results and has approved him to donate!
After getting the great news, it was about selecting a date that worked with the transplant team's schedule, the hospital's surgery schedule, and Glenn and his recipient's work and life schedules. In Glenn's case, October 25, 2021 was selected for the lifesaving living donor transplant surgery.
⬤ Day 128 – 5:00am Monday October 25, 2021 – Glenn and his recipient arrive at UT Southwestern Dallas for their living donor transplant surgeries.
⬤ Day 128 – 2:00pm Monday October 25, 2021 – Glenn comes out of surgery 100% fine, his surgery is a total success, he is up and alert, and is bugging the staff of UT Southwestern, roaming the hallways, and basically being the total nuisance, he always is.
⬤ Day 128 – 5:00pm Monday October 25, 2021 – Glenn's recipient comes out of surgery, her surgery is a total success, the transplant team tells her her new kidney is an amazing, large, healthy kidney, her new kidney goes right to work and starts producing urine! Glenn's kidney recipient is going to love and be just fine!
We posted several video shorts about Glenn's experience on our podcast page.
We hear this question more than any other question and it is no surprise to us because this is the question our Founder and Executive, Glenn, wanted answered more than any other question he had about the living donor approval or transplant surgery process. To answer this question, we will part ways from the normal, medical canned response you may have already heard from your living donor advocate, hospital, or transplant center. Instead, we are going to speak from our own experience, and we will back it up with some well-known peer supported medical information and verified medical stats.
The first thing you need to know is that sharing a similar blood type (RH factor) puts you high on the list of potential candidates to be approved as a living donor. We also struggled to find any reliable information that narrows this answer down to basic percentages or odds, but since a few of our Board of Directors have been through this process, both from a living donor and living donor organ recipient perspective, we feel we have a good grasp of how to answer this.
Based on our experience, we believe one of the most important markers to match for a living donor is blood type, Here’s how this qualification breaks down:
⬤ Blood type A living donors can donate to recipients with blood types A, A+, A- and AB.
⬤ Blood type B living donors can donate to recipients with blood types B, B+, B- and AB.
⬤ Blood type AB living donors can donate to recipients with blood type AB only.
⬤ Blood type O living donors (known as the universal donor) can donate to recipients with blood types A, A+, A-, B, B+, B-, AB and O.
As for recipients, this blood type qualification breaks down like this:
⬤ Blood type O recipients can receive an organ from blood type O donors only.
⬤ Blood type A recipients can receive an organ from blood types A, A+, A- and O.
⬤ Blood type B recipients can receive an organ from blood types B, B+, B- and O.
⬤ Blood type AB recipients (known as the universal recipient) can receive an organ from blood types A, A+, A-, B, B+, B-, AB and O.
HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen Typing), commonly referred to as tissue typing, is the next highest match/mismatch marker in the living donor approval process. Antigens are proteins on the cells in the body. Out of the 100+ different antigens that have been identified on the cells in the human body, only six are identified as critical in success rates of organ transplantation. We get three of the six antigens from each parent (3 from the mother/3 from the father).
A living donor or recipient can make antibodies against another person’s HLA. For example, in the case of a male and female couple, who’ve conceived a child together, the female body develops antibodies to fight off the foreign body that’s now living insider her when she is impregnated by the male. Simply put, the female body attacks the developing fetus just as it would a virus, bacteria, or infection. This would help explain why women experience morning sickness. The female body believes it is sick, so it creates antibodies to attack and eliminate the illness it is sensing (in this case, a baby). Aside from the miracle of conception and the birth of a baby, it is a miracle that the baby endured the attack from the mother’s body to attack and kill it.
In this scenario, the antibodies the female develops are antibodies designed to fight against the HLA of the father. The more children a couple have together, the more antibodies the female develops against the father’s HLA. This explains why husbands are often unable to donate a organ to save their mates life. Over time, the mother has built up a defense against the father’s cells. If the father were approved to donate his organ to the mother, her body would already be ready, and have more than enough antibodies on standby to fight anything with his HLA markers. In this case, it would be his donated kidney, and her body would attack it and try to kill it (reject it) because that is what it has been trained to do over the years of having children. Fortunately, medical technology has come a long way, and the lab results will show your doctors whether you have antibodies that would reject a transplant.
Other ways living donors and recipients develop antibodies against each other are through blood transfusions, pregnancy, infections, and viral illness. None of these guarantee that you might have antibodies against the HLA of your living donor but having strong antibodies against a donor’s HLA exponentially increases the risk of rejection, so a healthy, willing donor would be excluded as a living donor for that reason.
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Living Donor Support Network, dba FreetoLive®
San Diego, California, United States
Toll Free (833) 486-5483
FreetoLive® is a registered dba of Living Donor Support Network, a CA, USA 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, public benefit, nonprofit, FEIN: 87-2992511
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