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The largest kidney patient charity in the UK. Run by kidney patients, for kidney patients.

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ALTRUISTIC KIDNEY DONATION - Getting Started

Compiled from information provided by NHS Blood and Transplant

Since 2007 more people year on year have volunteered to be considered for non-directed altruistic kidney donation (donating a kidney to someone whom the donor has never met or known about previously) and many patients from the transplant waiting list have now benefited from this wonderful gift. There is definitely growing awareness about this type of donation but, if you are considering donating a kidney altruistically or would simply like to find out more about it, where do you start?

WHO CAN BE CONSIDERED AS A DONOR?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland anyone who is 18 years or over can, in principle, be considered for non-directed altruistic kidney donation but they must be carefully assessed and found to be both physically and psychologically suitable. Under the Human Tissue Act in these countries, people under 18 years of age can only donate if “best interests” can be proved for the donor in the High Court, which is rare at the best of times but would not be upheld for cases of non-directed altruistic donations. In Scotland, the minimum legal age for living kidney donation is 16 years.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION?

It is important to remember that whilst non-directed altruistic donation differs from donation between families and friends because the donor and recipient are not known to each other, the process of being assessed and the donor operation for living donor are the same, regardless of the relationship between donor and recipient. In other words, much of the medical information upon which a decision is made to proceed with donation or not, is similar. Although there are aspects of the assessment for non-directed altruistic donors that are required by law and may differ from the “normal” living donor pathway, looking at the basics is a good place to start.

There is good information about living kidney donation available in different formats via the internet. Apart from patient association websites such as the NKF at www.kidney.org.uk, Give a Kidney-One’s Enough at www.giveakidney.org.uk specifically supports altruistic donation. Other useful links include the NHS Blood and Transplant website at www.organdonation.nhs.uk which provides access to frequently asked questions, a DVD and supporting written information, together with personal donor recipient stories.

The Human Tissue Authority at www.hta.gov.uk also provides helpful information for potential donors about what is required under UK law in the context of all aspects of living kidney donation. Depending upon how much detail you are looking for, you can access the latest UK Guidelines for Living Donor Kidney Transplantation, updated in 2011, on the British Transplantation Society website at www.bts.org.uk in the “Standards and Guidelines” section. These professional guidelines provide detailed recommendations for the assessment and preparation of living donors. It may be helpful to speak to someone who has been through the donation process. The Give a Kidney One’s Enough website is a good place to start. The charity has a panel of previous altruistic donors, any of whom would be willing to speak to you. There are also people who have set up internet sites following donation that you can search for and access on the net.

IS THERE ANYONE I CAN SPEAK TO?

If you do not have access to the internet or would prefer simply to talk to someone for further information without any obligation, the best thing to do is to contact the Living Donor Co-ordinator Nursing Team in your closest kidney transplant centre. It may feel a little daunting to “cold call” someone whom you have never met before but every kidney transplant centre in the UK has a team like this who are used to speaking to people on the telephone about living kidney donation and will be happy to help you. This is a completely confidential service and does not tie you into anything at all. They will also be able to send you information to look at at home. If you have already done your research and wish to be assessed as a donor, you will be able to discuss with them the arrangements that can be made for you in your local area. They may also be able to put you in contact with previous donors who are willing to share their experiences.

You can contact any transplant centre, but it is a good idea to start with the one that is closest to where you live, as it is likely to be more convenient for you to attend appointments locally.

A full list of transplant centres and contact telephone numbers is given on the NHS Blood and Transplant website www.organdonation.nhs.uk. If you do not know the centre that is closest to you, you can e-mail your enquiry to NHS Blood and Transplant will be able to guide you. The table below may also help you to work out which transplant centre covers your area of the country.

Region Name of transplant centre Contact Tel Nos.
    Direct Line (DL) Switchboard (SB)
Northern Ireland Belfast City Hospital 0289 026 3921 0289 032 9241
West Scotland Glasgow Royal Infirmary 0141 211 2148
0141 211 1750
0141 211 4000
East Scotland Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 0131 242 1703 0131 242 1000
South Wales University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff 0292 074 6432 0292 074 7747
North Wales and North West England Royal Liverpool University Hospital 0151 706 5880 0151 706 2000
Manchester Royal Infirmary 0161 276 5083/
0161 276 4656
0161 276 1234
Isle of Man Royal Liverpool University Hospital 0151 706 5880 0151 706 2000
North East England and Yorkshire Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne 0191 223 1218 0191 233 6161
St James’s University Hospital, Leeds 0113 206 6601 0113 243 3144
Northern General Hospital, Sheffield 0114 271 5983 0114 243 4343
The Midlands Nottingham City Hospital 0115 969 1169 Ext. 59405 0115 969 1169
Leicester General Hospital 0116 258 4117 0116 249 0490
University Hospital Coventry 0247 696 7750/
0247 696 7790
0247 696 4000
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham 0121 371 5843/
0121 371 5845
0121 4721 311
Cambridgeshire and East Anglia Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge 01223 596 177/
01223 256 760
01223 245 151
Oxfordshire Churchill Hospital, Oxford 01865 226 107 01865 741841
London - North West London Renal Transplant Centre, Hammersmith 020 3313 5322 020 3313 1000
The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel 020 7377 7000 Ext. 2508 020 7377 7000
Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead 020 7317 7604 020 7794 0500
London - South West
London- South East
St George’s Hospital, Tooting 020 8725 1035/
020 8725 0745
020 8672 1255
Guy’s Hospital, Southwark 020 7188 5688/
020 7188 5705
020 7188 7188
South West England Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth 0239 228 6000 Ext. 1056/1055 0239 228 6000
Southmead Hospital, Bristol 0117 323 6380/
0117 323 5228
0117 970 1212
Derriford Hospital, Plymouth 01752 439 955
01752 437 146
0845 155 8155
Channel Islands Guy’s Hospital, Southwark 020 7188 5688/
020 7188 5705
020 7188 5705

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.