The Case for Living Donation

Despite superior outcomes, only 32% of transplants in the United States come from a living donor.

No Wait Time.
The average wait time for a deceased donor kidney in the U.S. is 4.5 years and can be as long as 7 years in more populated areas. All ESRD patients remain on dialysis while they wait. Irreversible damage to the body begins to set in the longer a patient is on dialysis leading to additional complications such as heart disease. For living kidney donation, the average time to transplant is 4 months once a patient identifies a compatible donor – sometimes eliminating the need for dialysis altogether.


Patients Live Longer.
The five-year survival rate for patients receiving a transplant from a living donor is more than double that of the most common form of dialysis and 9% higher than a transplant from a deceased donor.

Immediate Return to Normal Life.
Kidneys from living donors usually function immediately, allowing patients to immediately return to normal life. Deceased donor kidneys sometimes don’t function right away requiring continued dialysis. Normal life isn’t possible for dialysis patients. Dialysis treatment provides about 10% of the normal function of a kidney leaving patients feeling drained and sometimes unable to work. Patients spend 12 or more hours a week tethered to a machine making travel difficult, while greatly reducing one’s ability to participate in social and family life.

Longer Kidney Life.
Kidney graft survival (length of time the kidney lasts) for a living donor kidney lasts an average of 12 to 18 years compared to 8 to 12 years from a deceased donor.

Reduced Need for Re-transplant.
Since a living donor kidney lasts longer than a deceased donor kidney, the need for re-transplant is reduced by 23% within five years and 16% within 10 years.


Type of Donor Survival 1 Year 3 Years 5 Years 10 Years
Living Donor Graft Survival 95% 88% 80% 57%
Patient Survival 98% 95% 90% 64%
Deceased Donor Graft Survival 90% 79% 67% 41%
Patient Survival 95% 88% 81% 61%

Source: SRTR–Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients

Increased Convenience.
Patients waiting for a deceased donor kidney are on call 24-7. The year, month, day, and time are left to fate. Patients with living donors are able to schedule a planned surgery, which is more convenient for the donor and recipient.