Living Kidney Donor
A kidney transplant is the treatment of choice for individuals experiencing kidney failure.

Many patients currently on the wait list for a deceased donor kidney have a long and difficult road ahead. Living donation offers a shorter pathway to transplantation.

Learn more about the Kidney Transplant Program at UHN and your options.

Learn more about living kidney donation

Contact the Living Kidney Donation Program
Phone: 416 340 4800 ext. 7568

For general information about organ donation, you can also Contact the Centre for Living Organ Donation
Phone: 416 340 5400

About Our Program

  • Largest kidney transplant program in Canada with excellent patient outcomes
  • Over 5,000 kidney transplants since program started over 50 years ago
  • Over 1,600 living donor transplants since 1966
  • Follow-up care provided to more than 2,500 patients
  • Pioneering research leading to advances in transplant medicine
  • Compassionate experts working hard to achieve the best possible outcomes for each patient
Living Kidney Donor Program Team  

How to Become a Living Kidney Donor

STEP 1: To apply to become a potential living donor, complete the Living Donor Health History Form PDF Icon.

STEP 2: Submit the completed form in person, by email, mail or fax. All mailing information is on the form.

STEP 3: Our Living Kidney Donor Assessment Office will call you once we have reviewed your health history form. Please review the Living Donor ManualPDF Icon prior to the call and consider registering for one of our educational sessions.

Who cannot be a living kidney donor?

  1. Person younger than 18 years of age
  2. Confirmed diagnosis of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
  3. History of Melanoma (a type of skin cancer). Donor candidates with a history of squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma can proceed with the evaluation.
  4. Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 35 kg/m2. Calculate your BMI.
  5. History of heart bypass surgery, heart attack, cardiac stents or a stroke

Your Journey as a Living Kidney Donor

For a comprehensive list of helpful resources that will guide you through your donor journey as well as articles and videos on living organ donation, visit our Resource Library.

Advantages and Risks of Living Kidney Donation

We believe that becoming a living kidney donor must always be a voluntary choice, one that you make without pressure from others. Knowing the facts will help you decide if this option is the right choice for you.

  • Life-saving transplant, scheduled at time convenient for the donor, and with minimal waiting time for the recipient.
  • Provides an opportunity for the donor to give "the gift of life," with a faster return to good health and good quality of life for the recipient.
  • Removes a person from the deceased kidney wait list and increases organs available for transplant.
  • Donors gain deep satisfaction from their act of kindness and generosity.
  • Not all transplants are successful.
  • Kidney donation is a major operation; though living donors are in good health, there are risks related to having surgery. The donor team will talk to you about the risks involved.
  • The evaluation requires multiple visits to hospital and recovery takes at least 6 weeks.
  • Only part of the costs associated with surgery are reimbursed by the Ontario government.

Common Question and Answers about Living Kidney Donation

Living kidney donors have excellent outcomes. Since 1969, there have been over 1,600 living kidney donor transplants performed at UHN. However, donation is a major surgery and our team will speak to you about the short and long-term risks associated with being a living kidney donor.

There is a reimbursement program called Program for Reimbursing Expenses of Living Organ Donors (PRELOD) funded by the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

During your education session, the nurse coordinator from the living kidney donation program will speak to you about the PRELOD reimbursement program and how to apply for it.

Our program evaluates one potential living kidney donor candidate at a time. If multiple donors come forward for one transplant recipient, the living kidney donation team will select the most suitable donor candidate to begin evaluation. All potential donors will be notified that their application form has been received.

The first step to determine your suitability is to complete a donor health history form PDF Icon. This information will be reviewed by the kidney donor team and your suitability will be determined. The kidney donor coordinator will contact you once the health history has been reviewed to discuss the next step.

The living kidney donor program only evaluates one donor at a time because of the costs to the health care system. The pace of the donor evaluation is driven by donor safety and the time needed to obtain fully informed consent from the donor.

It is important that you take the time to learn about the risks and benefits of living kidney donation and think about your decision carefully.

If you decide to end your evaluation for kidney donation, your personal health information will be kept confidential. The recipient will only be told that the donor evaluation has ended. You may wish to tell the recipient of your choice yourself or you can ask your coordinator to assist you in informing your recipient with the support of the transplant program.

There are many advantages to a living kidney donation over a deceased kidney donation. For one, the waiting time is much shorter and the transplant date is planned ahead, allowing time for both the donor and recipient to get ready for the surgery. Furthermore, a kidney removed from a living donor is generally healthier than one removed from a deceased donor, and usually begins to function right after the transplant operation. This contributes to a better long-term success rate than deceased donor kidney transplants.

There are certain criteria you must meet to be a living kidney donor. This means that there are certain medical conditions that would not permit you to be a kidney donor, such as having a confirmed diagnosis of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a history of melanoma (a type of skin cancer), having a body mass Index (BMI) greater than 35 kg/m2 or if you had either had heart bypass surgery, heart attack or a stroke.

For your safety, it is essential that you make sure you tell the nurse coordinator in the living kidney donation program about any health issues or concerns you may have.

You should know as a potential donor that a living donor kidney transplant usually lasts 15 to 20 years and therefore some recipients may need another transplant later on in life.

To reduce the risk of a donor transmitting a viral illness to the recipient at the time of surgery, we recommend taking the following measures:

  • Do not have any body piercing, tattoos, acupuncture or electrolysis once you have come forward as a living kidney donor candidate.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Tell your living kidney donor coordinator about any accidental incidents, such as a needle stick injury.
  • Do not use any illicit drugs before your surgery.

If you wish to speak with someone who has undergone the living kidney donor process, please let the Living Kidney Donor Assessment Office know and we will arrange an opportunity to speak with one of our past donors. You can also email

The transplant will be scheduled once both the donor and recipient are medically cleared to proceed by their respective medical teams. Typically, surgeries are booked one month after final clearance of the donor and recipient. Some individuals prefer to wait longer to book surgery at a time that is more convenient for them.

Yes, please submit a completed living donor health history form PDF Icon. A living kidney donor coordinator will contact you to discuss the Kidney Paired Donation, Desensitization or List Exchange programs.

Yes, you can withdraw from the evaluation process without any explanation.

You will meet with members of the living donor team. We will talk to you about donation to make sure you are well informed about this option. Donor safety is our foremost concern. We also need to know that donors are choosing this freely without pressure. You or the donor team may decide that being a living donor is not in your best interest. All meetings with the donor team will be private. The person who needs the transplant will only know if the donor is suitable or unsuitable. No other information about the assessment will be shared.

Donor safety is our priority. The living kidney donation program will evaluate you as quickly as possible. It is important to remember that not all living kidney donor candidates will be found suitable to donate. Recipients, without a suitable living kidney donor, who are cleared for transplantation will be placed on the deceased donor wait list.

Please call the living kidney donor assessment office for more information at 416 340 4800 ext. 7568

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