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Types of Living Donation

Janet Hiller, RN, MSN, and Sandy Loevner, living kidney donor
Transplant nurse Janet Hiller with living kidney
donor Sandy Loevner.

There are two main types of living kidney donation: directed and non-directed.

Directed Donation

Directed donation occurs when a donor and recipient know each other. The donor and recipient may or may not be related. In the past, for best results, donors and recipients needed to have matching blood types and the recipient’s body needed to be unsensitized. If a recipient is not sensitized, it means that the recipient’s antibodies should not attack blood and tissue from the donor, leading to organ rejection.

However, donors and recipients do not have to be an exact match. The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center developed a method, called plasmapheresis, that allows for a “non-matching” donor to still provide a kidney to a recipient. Through our Incompatible Kidney Transplantation Program (InKTP) and our Highly Sensitized Patient Protocol, more options are available for non-matching, directed donors and recipients.

Another directed donation option is to participate in a kidney swap, or exchange. Through this type of donation, a donor and recipient may trade kidneys with another donor/recipient pair. For example, if there were two donor/recipient sets, A and B, Donor A’s kidney would go to Recipient B, while Donor B’s kidney would go to Recipient A. When multiple donor/recipient pairs are used, this type of matching is called a Paired Kidney Exchange.

Non-Directed Donation

Non-directed donors, or altruistic donors, are individuals who choose to donate a kidney to an unknown recipient. This kind of donation has the potential to start a domino effect of kidney donations.

If you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor, call 410-614-9345 or register online.


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