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Five Guidelines for Talking About Your Decision to Become a Living Donor

The decision to become a living donor is a big one. If you have already decided to become a donor, you may be worried about how your family and friends will react. Your loved ones may not understand the living donation process or why you want to donate. They might also be worried about how it will affect your health.

These are common concerns to be addressed when you’re discussing living donation with loved ones. While you know your family and friends better than anyone else, talking to them about becoming a living donor can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some guidelines you can follow when starting this conversation.

5 Guidelines for Living Donors

Share the recipient’s story

If you know the person you are donating to (a family member, friend, coworker, etc.), explain why the transplant is necessary and how every moment spent waiting is critical. Be positive, but make sure they understand the severity of the situation.

If you are choosing to donate to someone you don’t know, your family may have difficulty understanding your decision. It is much easier to comprehend undergoing surgery for someone you know and love, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share a recipient’s story.

Discuss the benefits of living donation

Telling your family about the benefits of living donation can help ease their minds. Some benefits you can talk about include:

  • Living donor transplants help save the lives of people waiting for a life-saving transplant and increases the availability of organs for people on the waiting list.
  • As a donor, you have the chance to make a positive impact on someone else’s life.
  • You and your recipient can schedule surgery at a time that works for both of you, allowing the transplant to happen sooner, but also when it’s convenient.
  • Receiving a portion of a healthy liver or a healthy kidney from a living donor typically leads to improved long-term outcomes and quicker recovery times for the recipient.

Understand the living donation process and be prepared to answer questions

Because they care about you, your loved ones will ask questions. Make sure you are prepared to answer them. When you are confident in your answers, they will be confident in your decision. If they feel like you don’t understand what you’ll be going through, they may think you’re unprepared to become a living donor.

Take the time to address their concerns. If they’re concerned you’ll have a lengthy hospital stay, assure them that most donors only spend a week in the hospital after surgery. No matter what their concerns, providing answers will help them feel better about the situation.

Recognize and address their worries

If you’ve already decided to become a living donor and your family expresses uncertainty, it can feel like they are not being supportive. Don’t dismiss their worries. Make sure they feel heard and know you care about their concerns.

Help your family understand in ways that work best for them

Maybe your mom needs to research the process on her own, or your brother wants to talk to you directly. No matter what their process is, understanding how their loved one came to this decision is important.

It can be beneficial to give people some time to think about your decision. Share a list of resources for them to reference or review, and always be available to talk with them.

When it comes to talking to loved ones about your decision to become a living donor, be patient and understanding. By addressing their concerns, you can help them understand the process and appreciate your reasons for becoming living donor.


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