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In April 2013 the Federal Minister for Health announced with Kidney Health Australia a two year pilot of a Supporting Leave for Living Organ Donors Program. The two-year pilot program provided up to six weeks paid leave at national minimum wage to employers, who pass it on to those eligible employees who become live organ donors.
In May 2015 the Government announced that this program will continue for another two years, and employers will now be reimbursed for up to nine weeks of leave. See media>
Kidney Health Australia relevant fact sheet resources
Deciding to be a live kidney donor
Live Kidney Donation
Non-directed live kidney donation
Organ and tissue donation & transplantation
INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS AND WILLING DONORS
What is live kidney donation?
‘Live donation’, ‘living-related transplantation’ or ‘live donor nephrectomy’ are terms used to describe the process where a living person donates one of their kidneys for transplantation to another person. The donor is the person giving the kidney and the recipient is the person getting the kidney.
Many people have a live kidney donation because it reduces or removes the need for dialysis.
In Australia the waiting time for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor is about three to four years. Live donation can also be planned. This reduces the time between a kidney’s removal and transplantation so the success rate improves. Hospital admission and surgery can also be organised ahead of time, allowing the donor and the recipient plenty of time to prepare for both surgery and recovery.
This fact sheet is designed to provide information for potential donors and their families about the live kidney donation process. If you are considering becoming a live kidney donor, the ‘Deciding to be a Live Kidney Donor’ has more information which may help you to think through the decision.
Who can become a live donor?
Most living organ donors are relatives of a person receiving the transplant (e.g. parent, brother or sister). Recent advances in medicine have made it possible for people not related, to donate to the person who needs a transplant (e.g. spouse, partner or friend).
Living donation by a relative or friend is called a live directed donation. If you are thinking of making a living kidney donation discuss this with your GP to find out how this may affect your individual health.
Living donation can also be non-directed
Non-directed, living kidney donation means donating one of your kidneys to a stranger while you are alive. As this is a very serious decision, you will need to obtain accurate information and discuss this with a number of people that may include your family, your general practitioner, and various members of a renal transplant team.
Your kidney will be given to a person who needs a kidney transplant and is registered on the kidney transplant waiting list. Blood group, tissue matching and the amount of time waiting on the transplant list will be considered. There are national guidelines for deciding who will receive a donated organ or tissue in Australia. These guidelines are available on the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand website - www.tsanz.com.au
People who are waiting for a kidney transplant are on dialysis. Dialysis is a process that acts as an artificial kidney by removing waste products from the blood. Dialysis restricts life in many ways. Kidney transplants are usually successful, and lengthen people’s lives as well as improving the quality of life of those with kidney failure.
In these cases, a person decides to donate a kidney to help whoever is on the waiting list. The donor has no say in who will or will not receive the kidney. Care is taken to protect the privacy of this type of donor.
This is a very serious decision - you may need to talk about it with your family, friends, GP, renal transplant nurse, social worker or counsellor.
Are you comfortable with your decision?
Some potential donors will have better tissue matches with the intended recipient and others may be unable to donate for medical reasons. This usually produces a small group of preferred donors but there may be only one.
Being the only medically suitable donor can create a lot of pressure, particularly if the need for an organ is urgent. Sometimes, even when there is more than one suitable donor from a medical point of view, pressure is put on one person to donate. Understanding where the pressure is coming from can help you to reach a decision.
It is very important that your donation decision is the right decision for you. It can be helpful to talk with someone outside of the family or friendship circle such as a counselor or social worker from the transplant unit.
What are your rights as a live donor?
In summary the potential donor has a number of rights, including:
- The right to medical information about the donation procedure and its short term risks as well as information about the possible long term risks;
- The right to information about the recipient’s medical prospects following transplantation;
- The right to independent medical advice;
- The right to counseling to discuss the potential psychological (mental) and social consequences of the decision to donate and adequate time to consider this information; and
- The right to decide not to donate.
Can I buy or sell a kidney? No - trade in human organs and tissue is illegal in Australia
This practice is also considered ethically unacceptable. Anyone involved would face criminal charges. The illegal buying of organs overseas raises the risks of recipients contacting blood borne diseases, complications, or even death.
Can anyone donate a kidney?
You need to be healthy and over the age of 18. Your health will be fully investigated. There are some medical conditions, which may prevent you being a kidney donor. They include:
What do I need to know about live kidney donation?
- Diabetes, or being at increased risk of developing diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Infectious disease
- Behaviour that puts you at risk of infectious disease, e.g. illegal drug use, unprotected sex with multiple partners
- Significant lung and heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Psychiatric disorder
- Major abdominal surgery
If thinking of making a live kidney donation, you may find these videos helpful to make an informed decision. We have reviewed and selected playlists on organ donation, kidney transplantation and other kidney related topics. We recommend Living Kidney Donation: What you need to know - from our KidneyHealthAus YouTube profile.
Permission to host this video has been provided by Queensland Health
View links to other videos in this range - click links here:
Part 1 - Living Kidney Donation: What you need to know
Part 2 - Living Kidney Donation: What you need to know
Jenny's story on her experience with Live Kidney Donation
WHAT IS THE AUSTRALIAN PAIRED KIDNEY EXCHANGE PROGRAM?
The Australian Paired Kidney eXchange Program (AKX) is an initiative of the Organ and Tissue Authority to increase the options for living kidney donation.
This program offers a transplant option for patients with an incompatible living donors
The AKX Program helps patients seeking a kidney transplant, whose potential living donor is unsuitable for them due to blood group and/or tissue incompatibility. This option is known as paired kidney exchange or, paired kidney donation.
The AKX Program uses a computer program to search the entire available database of registered recipient/donor pairs to look for combinations where the donor in an incompatible pair can be matched to a recipient in another pair. If a compatible match, two or more simultaneous transplants can occur by exchanging donors.
21 August 2013: In a South Australian first, an Adelaide woman has received a life saving kidney from a complete stranger, in exchange for one of her husband's kidneys, which went to a person in Perth.
How can I join the AKX Program?
To register you should contact your kidney specialist. You and your donor will be asked to:
- provide a detailed medical history
- undergo a number of medical tests
- have the program explained to you by a medical professional
- sign a consent form
Can Donors and Recipients meet?
Sharing information and meeting your donor or recipient can cause problems even if there are good medical results. Therefore the AKX Program protects the anonymity of donor and recipient pairs. Strict privacy and confidentiality is therefore maintained for each donor/recipient pair. It is not possible for staff involved in the Program to facilitate meeting of donors and recipients after the transplants.
What costs are involved?
There is no cost to you for participating in the Program, although you may need to consider sick leave if you are employed as you will need to take time off work. This should be discussed with your transplant centre. No payments can be charged, or paid to you, for donating a kidney or participating in the program.
Information provided by DonateLife
Have more questions regarding paired kidney donation and the AKX Program?
AKX Program Clinical Director - Professor Paolo Ferrari: call 02 9382 4411
AKX Program Co-ordinator - Claudia Woodroffe: call 02 9382 4476 or Claudia.Woodroffe@health.wa.gov.au
Australian Paired Kidney Exchange Program
Department of Nephrology, Prince of Wales Hospital
L3 - High Street Building, High Street, Randwick NSW 2031
Connect with us
Australian Red Cross Blood Service - call 131 495 to make an appointment or to donate always needed blood.
DonateLife™ - Resources
Making a Decision about Living Organ and Tissue Donation developed by NHMRC from "Living Organ & Tissue Donation: Guidelines for Ethical Practice for Health Professionals"
Renal Resource Centre NSW offer a range of brochures, publications and 'kidney' education material
Perioperative Mortality and Long-term Survival Following Live Kidney Donation
JAMA.2010;303(10):959-966 - Dorry L Segev MD PhD; Abimereki D Muzaale MD MPH; Brian S Caffo PhD; Shruti H Mehta PhD; Andrew L Singer MD PhD; Sarah E Taranto; Maureen A McBride, PhD; Robert A. Montgomery, MD, DPhil
Page updated 21 May 2015
Disclaimer: This information is intended as a general introduction to this topic and is not meant to substitute your doctor's or health professional's advice. All care is taken to ensure information is relevant and applicable to each Australian state. It should be noted Kidney Health Australia recognises each person's experience is individual and variations do occur in treatment and management due to personal circumstances. Should you require further info always consult your doctor or health professional.