Living Donor Kidney Evaluation

Living donor kidney evaluation is a three-part process, comprising a questionnaire and blood tests, a multidisciplinary team evaluation and surgeon visit, and an anesthesia evaluation.

Donating a kidney to another individual is an act of great kindness. Nearly half of the kidneys transplanted at Massachusetts General Hospital are given by living donors— family members, friends, co-workers and donors who are unknown to the recipient.

Kidney transplant patients

Transplant patients meet their matches

John Marzelli and Esperanza Yoblonsky were suffering from IgA nephropathy and both needed a new kidney; they found their answer in the Transplant Center’s internal exchange program. Read the story

Living donor kidney evaluation is a three-part process, which begins with a questionnaire and blood tests. Next a multidisciplinary team, including the surgeon, evaluates the donor. Finally, the donor meets with an anesthesiologist and schedules the surgery. A dedicated donor coordinator directs potential donors through all the steps, informs donors of testing and evaluation results, and when the donor is ready, coordinates with the recipient team. Typically, the Transplant Center and the recipient's insurance will cover the cost of the evaluation and surgery.

Phase One: Questionnaire and Blood Tests

  • Donor evaluation begins with the donor contacting our transplant center and answering a few questions that allow us to determine the donor’s overall health status
  • Donors must be over the age of 18 but younger than 65, and should not have evidence of high blood pressure, cancer history, diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease
  • The donor undergoes standard blood tests to determine whether he/she is a blood type match, as well as to assess his/her kidney function and overall health status. Blood testing can be performed at Mass General or at another local hospital

Phase Two: Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation and Surgeon Visit

  • The prospective donor will undergo a complete medial history and physical examination at the Mass General Transplant Center, which will include an electrocardiogram (EKG), chest X-ray, additional blood work, urine tests, kidney function tests and a CT scan of the kidneys
  • The donor will meet with our nephrologists, living donor nurse coordinator, financial coordinator, social worker, living donor advocate and nutritionist to learn about the entire donation process and to ask any questions   
  • The donor will next meet with a surgeon from the Mass General Kidney Transplant Program to discuss the surgical procedure and hospital stay for living donors. The operation is performed using laparoscopic techniques, and the majority of donors go home two days after surgery

Phase Three: Anesthesia Evaluation and Scheduling Surgery

  • Once all tests are complete, the transplant team will discuss the donor at our weekly multidisciplinary kidney transplant meeting to determine if the donor is approved for surgery. Once approved, we will schedule the surgery on a date that is convenient for both the donor and recipient
  • The donor will meet with his/her surgeon to sign the surgical consent form and to answer any last-minute questions. The donor will also meet with an anesthesiologist to discuss the anesthesia process and answer any additional questions


To make an appointment or talk to someone about our donor evaluation process, please call 877-644-2860. 
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