If you or someone you know is waiting for a kidney or liver transplant, you’re probably familiar with living donation.
Transplants from a living donor are an alternative to the waiting list and can help you or your loved one receive a transplant sooner. Here are three steps to help you find a donor.
Determine Who Can Help
It’s likely you already know the person who will become your living donor. It could be a close friend, family member, coworker, Facebook friend, or a former classmate. Start by making a list of prospective donors who fit the following eligibility requirements:
- Be in good physical and mental health
- Have a BMI less than or equal to 32
- Not engage in drug or substance abuse
- Have no history of pulmonary hypertension, HIV, liver disease (like cirrhosis or hepatitis), active cancers, or other significant diseases
Liver donors must be between the ages of 18 and 55, and kidney donors must be between the ages of 18 and 69.
Share Your Story
Once you develop a list of possible donors, it’s time to let them know you need help. As you tell your story, it’s important to remain positive and remember that asking someone to become a donor can be very emotional.
Be ready to share the following information:
- Why: It’s important to let them know why you need a transplant and why living donation is the best option.
- What: You should be prepared to answer questions and provide background information regarding living donation.
- When: Include a sense of urgency. Let people know that the sooner a suitable donor can be found, the healthier you’ll be when you undergo the transplant.
There are multiple ways to connect with potential donors, and social media is one of the most effective tools. A Facebook page dedicated to helping you find a donor can reach hundreds of people. Learn more about how to find a donor via Facebook.
It’s important to constantly share your story because you never know who will able to help. Start by spreading the word through phone calls to family and close friends.
For more information, please visit the Living Donor Champion Toolkit.
Then talk with friends and acquaintances from group or social activities, including:
- School or work
- Gym or fitness center
- Family gatherings
- Places of worship
- Book clubs
Pamphlets, business cards, television, and radio spots also can help you share your story. Once you have a volunteer, encourage him or her to register as a donor with UPMC. If he or she is an appropriate candidate, the UPMC Living Donor Transplant Program will contact them about next steps.
The most important thing is to stay positive. Others that you encounter on this journey will guide and support you, share your story, and become your advocates in finding a donor. For more information, please visit the Living Donor Champion Toolkit.