The living donor must first undergo a blood test to determine blood type compatibility with the recipient.
Blood Type Compatibility Chart
|Recipient's Blood Type||Donor's Blood Type|
|A||A or O|
|B||B or O|
|AB||A,B, AB or O|
If the donor and recipient have compatible blood types, the next step for the donor is a medical history review and a complete physical examination.
In the examination, doctors may commonly perform the following tests:
Tissue Typing: the donor's blood is drawn for tissue typing of the white blood cells. This test checks the tissue match between six codes on the donor and recipient cells. While still required as part of the transplant process, tissue typing is rarely a consideration for living organ donation.
Crossmatching: a blood test is done before the transplant to see if the potential recipient will react to the donor organ. If the crossmatch is "positive," then the donor and patient are incompatible because antibodies will immediately react against the donor’s cells and consequently cause immediate loss of the transplant. If the crossmatch is "negative," then the transplant may proceed. Crossmatching is routinely performed for kidney and pancreas transplants.
Antibody Screen: an antibody is a protein substance made by the body's immune system in response to an antigen (a foreign substance; for example, a transplanted organ, blood transfusion, virus, or pregnancy). Because the antibodies attack the transplanted organ, the antibody screen tests for panel reactive antibody (PRA). The white blood cells of the donor and the serum of the recipient are mixed to see if there are antibodies in the recipient that react with the antigens of the donor.
Urine Tests: In the case of a kidney donation, urine samples are collected for 24 hours to assess the donor's kidney function.
X-Rays: A chest X-Ray and an electrocardiogram (EKG) are performed to screen the donor for heart and lung disease.
Arteriogram: This set of tests involves injecting a liquid that is visible under X-Ray into the blood vessels to view the organ to be donated. This procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis, but in some cases it may require an overnight hospital stay.
Psychiatric and/or psychological evaluation: The donor and the recipient may undergo a psychiatric and/or psychological evaluation.
Gynecological examination: For all female donors, a complete gynecological examination is required. For females 32 years and older, a mammogram is also required. In general, the transplant nurse coordinator, in conjunction with your physician, can arrange testing.
Final blood test: Usually completed within 48 hours of surgery, the last blood test is another crossmatch. It is the final comparison of the donor's blood cells and recipient's blood serum to make sure that the recipient has not created any antibodies that would attack the donated organ.
While these tests are commonly done, an individual transplant program may require other tests it finds necessary to help ensure the health and suitability of a potential donor.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is committed to providing accurate and reliable information for transplant patients. The content on this page was originally created on February 25, 2005 by UNOS and last modified on January 24, 2012.
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