Center for Transplantation

Living Donor Kidney Champions

For people who need a kidney transplant, asking friends, co-workers, community members, and even family to consider donating a kidney can be a challenging task. We encourage patients to identify a "Kidney Champion" - someone who is willing to ask and educate people about kidney disease, as well as discuss the options available to patients with the disease. Kidney champions can provide important information so that the patient does not have to feel awkward speaking to others about their health condition and their treatment options - dialysis verses transplantation.

Who makes a good Kidney Champion?
Anyone can be a Kidney Champion for someone who needs a kidney transplant.
A Kidney Champion is:

  • someone who has already donated or received a kidney
  • someone who wants to donate a kidney but was ruled out because of their own medical or psychosocial issues
  • someone who wants to donate a kidney but is blood type incompatible
  • children who are too young to donate themselves but want to help in some way

What does a Kidney Champion do?
A Kidney Champion lets people in their circle know that the family member, friend or acquaintance has kidney failure. He/she then provides education and/or educational materials about kidney disease, treatment options (dialysis or transplant), and living kidney donation.

Help Break Some Common Misconceptions:

Myth #1 Dialysis Must Precede Transplant:
Actually, people who receive a kidney transplant before going on dialysis do better than patients who went on dialysis before transplant. Both patient and kidney transplant survival are better when patients undergo pre-emptive transplants (meaning transplant before needing dialysis).

Myth #2 Transplant Is A Last Resort:
Transplant should be the first choice, whenever possible. As mentioned above, people do better if they were not on dialysis. In general, the healthier someone is, the better they do after transplant.

Myth #3 Only A Close Relative Can Donate:
Just about anyone can donate a kidney to someone in need of a transplant, as long as the donor is medically suitable to donate. With medications available today, the genetic match of the transplant is not as important as it used to be. In fact, even if you have a willing but incompatible donor (e.g. incompatible blood type), you can enter a registry to “swap” donors with other incompatible pairs.

Myth #4 Living Kidney Donation Is A New Field:
The first successful kidney donation occurred in 1954 - more than half a century ago! Living Donation has a great track record. Surgical innovations have improved the experience of living kidney donors tremendously.

Myth #5 Living Donors Face A Long Recovery:
With the availability of today’s minimally invasive surgical techniques, the majority of donors are in the hospital for just one to two days. They are recovered enough to return to work in about four to six weeks after donation.

Myth #6 No Financial Assistance Is Available For Living Donors:
While it is true that it is illegal for a donor to be compensated for his/her kidney, a donor may apply to the National Living Donor Assistance Center. The funding is based on economic need and may help defray costs related to travel, lodging and meals.

Tools for Kidney Champions:

Send a Letter or E-Mail:
Kidney Champions can tell people about your situation through a letter or e-mail. Your Champion will educate them about the available options for kidney donation, and explain why they chose to become your Kidney Champion. We will provide your Kidney Champion with some ideas and tools they can easily customize and use to make this process easier.
Sample email/letter

Host a Gathering:
A Kidney Champion can set up a gathering at your home, at church, or at a community center. He/she can invite people to come and learn about kidney disease and the treatment options available to people with kidney failure. They may also tell your story so that the attendees can better understand what living with kidney disease means.
Sample Event Invitation

Creating a Cause on Facebook

Data to Support the Cause
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374007/

Contact
UMC Center for Transplantation
UMC Living Donor Program Coordinator
(702) 383-2224