Dartmouth Health transplant surgeon debunks myths about living kidney donations

News release

More than 100,000 people need an organ in the United States. Of those patients, almost 90,000 are waiting to receive a kidney. World Kidney Day, celebrated annually on March 9, is a global awareness day for kidney health and opportunity to discuss the importance of kidney donations.

We can all check that box on our license to donate an organ if something happens to us, but did you know you could save a life now?

"Living donors can lead healthy, long lives and save others," said Michael F. Daily, MD, MS, FACS, solid organ transplant section chief at Dartmouth Health's Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). "Kidneys from living donors are superior in almost every way. There are fewer complications, the kidney begins to work sooner, and it allows flexibility in planning surgeries."

Daily debunks common myths about being a living kidney donor:

What if I'm not a match for the recipient?

If you aren't a match for one recipient, you can still help. At DHMC, we are part of the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation and the National Kidney Registry. When you donate a kidney to any eligible recipient who can't find a match, you can start a donation chain that extends the chance for unmatched donors to help unmatched recipients. One kidney can create a chain of donations well into the double digits.

Am I too old to donate?

That's often not the case. Kidney transplants from living donors in their late 50s last as long as some of the best kidneys from deceased-donor kidneys do.

Am I paid for kidney donations?

No. You cannot receive payment for donating a kidney. There are programs available to assist with the financial needs of donors, such as reimbursement for travel or lost wages.

Will having only one kidney affect my daily life?

Donors actually tend to live longer than the general population. That's not because they have one kidney—it's because they have to be quite healthy to donate. The remaining kidney actually gets stronger and more efficient—for the donor and the recipient.

"The ideal candidate is motivated and healthy. The evaluation process is strict because we need to ensure that the donor has two normal kidneys with great function and that they aren't at risk for developing a disease or condition that could affect kidney function. The power you have to help someone with your donation is extraordinary," said Daily.

Visit our Transplantation Surgery website for more information.

About Dartmouth Health

Dartmouth Health, New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves patients across northern New England. Dartmouth Health provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, as well as across its wide network of hospitals, clinics and care facilities. DHMC is consistently named the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in numerous clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth Health includes Dartmouth Cancer Center, one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only such center in northern New England; Dartmouth Health Children’s, which includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s only children’s hospital, and multiple clinic locations around the region; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene and New London, NH, and Bennington and Windsor, VT; Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and more than 24 clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. Through its historical partnership with Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Health trains nearly 400 medical residents and fellows annually, and performs cutting-edge research and clinical trials recognized across the globe with Geisel and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. Dartmouth Health and its more than 13,000 employees are deeply committed to serving the healthcare needs of everyone in our communities, and to providing each of our patients with exceptional, personal care.