Organ Donation

There is an urgent need for organ donation in the United States, where almost 90,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.

Because Seattle Children's Hospital provides specialty care across a six-state region - Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Hawaii - we are uniquely positioned to search for viable organs in a wider geographic area than that of many other children's hospitals.

Our physicians and surgeons are working to improve the situation for children who need transplants. They are actively involved with national United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) committees.

Kidneys for transplant can be obtained from two sources:

Living Donors

Because the body needs only one kidney to filter blood, a healthy individual can donate one kidney and remain healthy.

A living-donor kidney transplant can be scheduled, reducing the stress of waiting for a donor organ. Living donors help relieve the nation's shortage of donated organs.

Who can donate a kidney?

To be a living donor, a person must be in excellent health, have no psychiatric problems and volunteer freely to donate. People who donate kidneys are usually between 18 and 50 years of age.

Transplants with living donors who are related to the patient often work best. There is a higher chance of a good match between the adult who gives the kidney and the child who receives it.

However, newer medicines work well to suppress the patient's immune system. They often make it possible for someone who is not related to the patient to successfully donate a kidney.

A positive aspect of living donation from a family member or a friend is that the donor knows they have helped a loved one in a very important way.

What are the requirements for living donors?

We screen potential donors very carefully. We consider a range of physical, medical and psychosocial issues.

Relatives or friends who are considering a living donation are referred to the University of Washington Medical Center for assessment. There, the potential donor will undergo an evaluation of the kidney to make sure that it is healthy and that the donor will remain healthy during and after the donation procedure.

Learn more about living donation.

Deceased Donors

Deceased donors are people whose organs have been made available for donation at their own request before death or by their families after death.

Learn more about organ allocation.