Discussing Living Donation with Family and Friends
Asking someone to be a living donor involves careful consideration that may create a variety of emotions. But for many people, the shift in thinking from "I need to ask someone to donate an organ" to "I need to inform people about my situation and educate them about organ donation" can have a significant impact on your state of mind and willingness to talk to family members and friends. Talk to your transplant team about resources they can provide to help you through this process.
There are lots of reasons why you might be hesitant to ask others about living donation. Some concerns and questions may include:
- Why should I rely on others to help me with my illness?
- What are the medical risks involved?
- How will I feel if a potential donor doesn’t follow-through with the screening process?
- Am I prepared to deal with the possible rejection of the organ?
- How could I possibly thank someone for being my living donor?
- Will donation have an impact on my relationship with donor?
Once you have the motivation to talk to other people, it is important to educate yourself about living donation. Having the knowledge about organ donation will give you the confidence to talk about your situation and answer any questions raised by others. Read frequently asked questions now >
Common questions from potential donors include:
- the donor evaluation process
- donor eligibility criteria
- potential risks
- the advantages of living donation
- financing living donation
- long-term medical and psychological outcomes for donors
- how to contact the transplant center if someone is interested in donation
These are important questions that deserve careful consideration. Talk to your transplant team to be sure you have a complete and accurate understanding of how potential living donors are evaluated and selected.
You may also benefit from speaking to others who have already gone through surgery. Your transplant center may have a list of individuals who are willing to speak to potential donors.
These options may be helpful when planning how to discuss your need for a living donor:
- Be prepared with information and resources that you can provide to family and friends. Your transplant team can provide educational materials. These resources may also be helpful:
-Living Donation: Information you need to know
-Being a living donor
- Bring family members and friends together to discuss your health problems and expected survival without a transplant. Also tell them about why your doctors are recommending a living donor transplant.
- Ask family members, friends, or others, individually, to consider being your living donor. For instance, you might say: "I have
and my doctors have told me that I need a transplant to live. The doctors said that a from a living person is better than one from someone who has died. I know that this is a very difficult thing to ask, but would you consider learning more about donating a to me? Our relationship is important to me, so please take time to consider it.
- Write an e-mail or letter and send it to all family members and friends. Again, you can describe your need for a transplant, while also mentioning that you would benefit from a living donor.
- Recruit an advocate who can talk to people about being a living donor. Often times, this advocate is a family member, friend, pastor or other important person in your life.
- Consider bringing someone close to you to your transplant evaluation and re-evaluation appointments. This person can share information with potential donors.
Careful consideration takes time
- Don't expect potential donors to respond right away after you discuss donation with them. Some people make their decision immediately while others need time to consider process the details involved with living donation.
- If anyone expresses interest in living donation, thank them and tell them how to contact the transplant center. Be sure to let them know that they can confidentially discuss their questions or concerns with the transplant team.
- Keep your options open. Someone may offer to donate when you least expect it.
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 January 6, 2014 by UNOS and last modified on March 19, 2014. The following sources were used as references:
This Web site is intended solely for the purpose of electronically providing the public with general health-related information and convenient access to the data resources. UNOS is not affiliated with any one product nor does UNOS assume responsibility for any error, omissions or other discrepancies.