Kidney transplant from a deceased donor

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Two people casting a shadow while they walk

A deceased person only becomes a potential organ donor when doctors have confirmed that the person is “brain dead” and the person’s family has agreed to organ donation.

Because of how the deceased donor died, their whole body, including the organs, is likely to have experienced trauma. As a result:

  • a nephrologist will need to check the kidneys to decide if they can be transplanted
  • there may be some organ damage that may correct itself after transplantation
  • there may be microscopic damage to the kidneys that the transplant team cannot identify at the time of donation.

Checking the safety of your new organ

Specialists in organ donation review the health and lifestyle of all potential donors and decide if there is anything that could cause infection, cancer or poor kidney function.

The deceased donor is also tested for all viruses including HIV (which can develop into AIDS), hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and, in summer time, West Nile virus.

Your transplant team will have the results of all the important virus tests before the organ is transplanted.

Kidney transplants take place, ideally, within 24 hours of the kidney being removed from the donor. Once your transplant team calls you to tell you that an organ is available for you, you need to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Will I be told anything about the deceased donor?

You will not know the name of the deceased donor or anything about them. In the same way, the donor family will not know anything about you, your name or your kidney disease. The donor and their family have the right to privacy and confidentiality and so do you. It is important to respect this right. It is also the law.

Last updated: November 30th 2017