Directed vs. Good Samaritan Donation

Directed Donation

Directed donation means that the living donor donates a kidney to a specific person who is usually biologically related, such as a sibling, parent, cousin, uncle, etc.; emotionally related, such as a spouse or close friend; or casually related such as a co-worker, neighbor, or member of a spiritual community. Today in the United States, almost all living donations are directed. About 40% of the living donors in the United States, are biologically unrelated donors, which is becoming increasingly more common. Through public awareness and increased education, combined with ongoing policy changes, these numbers are expected to increase.

Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan donation occurs when there is someone who has been inspired to donate a kidney, but does not have someone specifically in mind that needs one. Good Samaritan donors, also referred to as non-directed donors or anonymous donors, currently represent 3% of all living donor transplants in the United States. In England, 10% of living donations come from Good Samaritan donors.

One motivation for the Good Samaritan donor is the chance to begin a “kidney chain.” The chain can save multiple lives through choreographed operations – all initiated by one Good Samaritan. The average chain is between four and six transplants long, but multiple chains have extended to more than thirty transplants.

All living donors must be in excellent health. They undergo many tests and a physical exam, are well informed about the transplantation process, and need to be able to give their informed consent. To learn more about the donor evaluation process in your area, contact a local transplant center.