Dr. Amit Tevar of UPMC

Living Donor Kidney Transplant: Q&A with Dr. Amit Tevar

It is estimated that more than 110,000 Americans are on the kidney transplant waiting list, and someone new is added every 10 seconds. If you’re on that list, the average wait time to receive a life-saving transplant is three to five years.

Amit D. Tevar, MD, surgical director of the UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, has dedicated his life to restoring hope for patients with end-stage kidney disease, and he believes that anyone on the waiting list should discuss living donation with their doctor.

Q&A on Living Donor Kidney Transplant with Dr. Amit Tevar

Dr. Tevar at UPMC

Q: Why is living donation so important?

A: Living-donor kidney transplants save lives. Patients who have a living donor spend less time on dialysis, and can receive a transplant before the disease has progressed to a more severe stage. Overall, patients who receive a kidney transplant generally live longer and have fewer complications than those on dialysis, so it really is a life-saving alternative.

Q: Can you talk more about dialysis and how this process works?

A: For patients with end-stage kidney failure, dialysis is a treatment option, not a cure. Without a kidney transplant, the patient must be on dialysis for life. Dialysis is a procedure that filters your blood through your body and removes waste when your kidneys are no longer functioning. Once you start dialysis, you need to keep doing it a few times each week.

For more information about living donation, contact the UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at 412-647-5800 or email transplant@upmc.edu.

Q: Why should patients on dialysis consider a kidney transplant?

A: Dialysis can severely affect your quality of life, and it can have serious side effects, including:

It can also be very overwhelming because you must receive treatments on a regular basis. So it’s difficult to travel or take a vacation, because it’s very time-consuming.

Q: Can you explain the living donor kidney transplant process?

A: During a living-donor kidney transplant, we remove a kidney from a healthy living person and transplant it into the person with the failing kidney. Often donors are relatives or close friends, but they may be strangers who simply want to help.

Q: What does it take to become a living kidney donor?

A: We carefully evaluate potential donors to make sure they fit the criteria and that it’s safe for them to donate. Donors must:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 69
  • Be in good general health
  • Be free from diseases that can damage the organs, such as diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or cancer

The first step in becoming a living donor is to complete the living donor registration form.

Q: How does someone on the waiting list find a living donor?

A: It’s likely the person who becomes your living donor is someone you already know. Donors can be people you know from school, work, the gym, church, or other social settings.

You potentially can find a donor simply by telling your story and letting people know you need help. Many people have used social media to find a living donor.

For more information about living donation, contact the UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at 412-647-5800 or email transplant@upmc.edu.