Kidney Care and Transplant Services

​Living Kidney Donation Team

At UW Medicine, our multidisciplinary team ensures you get the best care possible during the Living Kidney Donation (LKD) process. Here are some of the people you’ll meet with:

  • An Independent Donor Advocate (IDA), a licensed clinical social worker, will be available to you throughout the donation process and recovery to promote your best interest and advocate for your rights. The IDA is independent of the recipient's care team. The IDA will assist you with obtaining and understanding information regarding the medical, psychological, and financial risks associated with being a living donor. The IDA will be available to you to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. The IDA will make sure that you feel comfortable moving forward with the living donation and that you do not feel any pressure to donate. The IDA will be your voice at the donor selection conference.

  • Psycho/Social Evaluation -- A licensed clinical transplant social worker will complete a full psychosocial evaluation, including review of your mental health and alcohol and drug use. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine if you understand the emotional, financial, and physical stress you may experience as a kidney donor. This interview will also allow you to become acquainted with the support systems available at the UWMC. The social worker can also recommend options for assistance with expenses not covered as part of the donation e.g., housing and transportation. Support of the transplant social worker will be available throughout the living kidney donor process to help with stress-related problems to you and your family.

  • A Transplant Nephrologist meets with you to determine if you are a good medical candidate for donation. The nephrologist will review your medical history, ask many questions about how you are doing and what infections you might have been exposed to, plus review the medical risks for donation.  A full history and physical will be performed. The nephrologist will also follow up with you after donation to review medical recovery.

  • A Transplant Surgeon meets with you to discuss whether donation is an option for you, based on the results of your evaluation. The surgeon will also discuss the significance of having the surgery, the procedure itself, the risks of the surgery and the possible complications after your donation and during the recovery phase.

  • The Nurse Coordinator provides education about the donation process and your responsibilities before and after surgery. The nurse coordinator discusses test results and reviews any medical testing needed throughout the process.

  • A Program Coordinator discusses and schedules testing and blood draws, and provides information about visits to the UWMC.

  • A Psychiatrist/Psychologist may conduct a more in-depth psychiatric evaluation and assessment. Some patients with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be required to participate in a rehabilitation program and/or to abstain from substance use prior to donation.
Routine health care — A pap smear, mammogram, and/or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and colonoscopy are general health and cancer screening tests that we require based on your age, gender, and family history. These tests are part of your own standard health care and are therefore not paid for by the Living Donor Program.
  • CT Scan - A computerized tomography (CT) scan with contrast will provide an image of your abdomen to check the anatomy of your kidneys, liver, spleen and bladder. This test will determine if surgery is safe, as well as which kidney would be donated.
  • Chest X-ray – A chest x-ray screens for illnesses of your lungs, heart and primary blood vessels.

  • Selection Committee

    After you see a surgeon and the CT scan is completed, the results of your evaluation will be presented to the UWMC Living Kidney Donation Selection Committee. At this meeting, it will be determined if you are a candidate for a living donor surgery. The committee members will determine whether you are medically able to undergo the transplant procedure, and if you have shown that you have the social, financial and support resources for the donation.

    The committee will decide:
    1. To accept you as a donor.
    2. Not to accept you for donation and explain why you were not accepted.
    3. Request more visits and tests before they make a decision.
    You will be contacted about the decision within 10 business days of your presentation to the committee. 

    The Donation Operation (Nephrectomy)

    Once you are approved as a donor, we will schedule your surgery based upon your schedule, the operating room schedule and the recipient’s schedule. During your pre-operative appointment, your surgeon will review the procedure and related risks again.

    Care and Recovery After Surgery

    After your surgery, you will be taken to the inpatient unit. The length of your stay in the hospital typically varies between two and four days, and will depend on the rate of your recovery and/or complications after surgery.
    After you leave the hospital, you will still be recovering. For the first eight weeks, your doctor may recommend limiting your daily activities.

    You will meet with the living donor team approximately 9 to 12 days after surgery for a post-operative appointment. We also request that you to have an exam and lab tests at 3 to 6 months, 1 year and 2 years after donation. These follow-up appointments can be at UWMC or with your primary care provider. It is also important to maintain long-term follow-up with your primary care provider. ​