Living Donor Organ Transplantation
Since organ transplant surgery was first introduced in the mid-1900s, the number of seriously ill patients waiting for an organ has steadily increased. Currently, there are more than 121,000 people on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) registry waiting for an organ, with more than 5,400 in Illinois alone.
Unfortunately, the number of organs available for transplantation has not kept pace with the demand. In 2013, only 22,517 organs from deceased donors were available nationwide.
To lessen this gap, surgeons found a way to transplant organs between two living people. Since the first living donor transplant surgery was performed in 1954, thousands of patients have received life-saving organs from living donors.
Kidney is the most common living donor transplant performed since the body can function normally with only one kidney. Living donor liver transplants also are performed, as the liver can regenerate itself to replace the transplanted portion.
Why Northwestern Memorial
Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Kovler Organ Transplantation Center is one of the best in the Midwest region and is a leader in living donor transplant surgery. Our transplant physicians and nurses have performed more than 2,300 living donor kidney transplants and more than 220 living donor liver transplants.
In 2015, Northwestern Memorial was one of the largest living donor kidney transplant programs in Illinois, performing 86 such transplants. The benefits of living donor kidney transplants are well-documented; the kidneys from living donors have longer graft survival rates, function better and have fewer complications than kidneys from deceased donors.
In 2015, Northwestern Memorial performed 8 adult living donor liver transplants, making ours the largest living donor liver programs in the Illinois.
Potential donors must be in relatively good health, both physically and emotionally and have a compatible blood type with the organ recipient. Additionally, kidney donors need to be over the age of 18 and liver donors need to be between 18 and 60 years old. Those who agree to be a living donor do so as a volunteer and find great reward in saving a life.
Learn more about Living Kidney Donation
Learn more about Living Liver Donation
Six pairs of kidney donors and recipients meet for the first time
On February 17, 2016, six kidney donation pairs met each other for the first time. It is not uncommon for a donation pair to have one person that needs a new kidney and another that wants to donate to that person but can’t because they aren’t a match, which can occur for various reasons. However, because another donor pair may also be in the same situation, the Northwestern transplant team can check to see if there is compatibility to swap the kidney donors between the pairs so everyone still gets a kidney if they agree to the idea. In these arrangements, no one knows who they got their life-saving kidney from, and the donors don’t know who they donated to.
To make the February 17, 2016, meeting even more special, the whole exchange was made possible thanks to one altruistic donor who just wanted to donate to someone in need and was not part of a dedicated donor pair. Without this selfless donor, this six-way kidney transplant wouldn’t have been possible.
To help spread the word about the importance of organ donation, the donors and recipients agreed to allow local news media attend the meeting. As a result, the following news organizations covered this amazing story for the greater public at large: WGN-TV, ABC 7, CBS 2, Yahoo! News, NBC 5 and WBBM Newsradio.
The Kovler Organ Transplantation Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital offers comprehensive, compassionate care throughout the transplant process. Our transplantation programs include:
Meet Our Team
For appointments with
Kidney Living Donor Transplant Program
Liver Living Donor Transplant Program