According to the United Network for the Organ Sharing (UNOS) nationwide, more than 120,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant as of May 2018. Many face a lengthy wait for an available organ. To spare an individual patient a long and uncertain wait, relatives, loved ones, friends, and even individuals who wish to remain anonymous may serve as living donors. About 6,000 transplants each year are made possible by living donors. Two types of non-related kidney donation are:
1. Non-directed donation. With this type of donation the donor does not name the specific person to get the transplant. The match is arranged based on medical compatibility with a patient in need. Some non-directed donors choose never to meet their recipients. In other cases, the donor and recipient may meet at some time, if they both agree, and if the transplant center policy permits it.
2. Paired kidney exchanges. This type of donation is becoming very common and an exciting option for kidney recipient and donor pairs who are not compatible with each other. Previously, people with kidney failure who had an incompatible donor were not able to benefit from the transplant being offered to them. However, paired kidney exchange programs are having a significant impact on the expanding options of living kidney transplants. Paired exchanges are now allowing transplants to occur between incompatible donor pairs and in a few unique ways.
There are many types of living kidney donations. The Network encourages dialysis facility staff to educate patients and care givers about transplant options and provide resources to help them make informed decisions.
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