Each year, the number of end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients waiting for a transplant increases. The persistent shortage of organs has challenged transplant patients and professionals to find alternative methods to increase organ donation. At one time, only family members were considered for live donation. Now spouses and other non-related donors are considered.

In this regard, Good Samaritan donation is now being considered and performed. In October of 1997, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Ethics Committee stated that anonymous donation was morally commendable and truly altruistic. In our transplant program, we have transplanted 411 living donors and more than 50 of these have been unrelated living donors. Unrelated donors ranged from in-laws, friends, students and co-workers to Good Samaritan donors. As of April 2001, we have transplanted eight ESRD recipients with kidneys from living Good Samaritan donors.

The Good Samaritan preoperative evaluation differs only slightly from the unrelated directed living donor. Both require psychiatric evaluation. Informed consent cannot be obtained if there is impaired judgment or impaired cognitive ability. Risk factors are discussed by the transplant coordinator initially and then reinforced by the psychiatrist and the transplant surgeon. Spousal and family support is addressed for the Good Samaritan donor.

At this time, Good Samaritan living donation is considered center directed and thus the potential recipient is identified from our center's list. All ABO compatible recipients are tissue-typed and cross-matched regardless of blood group. Recipients are identified using UNOS's guidelines for percent of reactive antibody, time waiting and match. Age match is also considered. The transplant team discusses the candidates to assure that the best candidate is chosen to afford the best possible outcome.

The number one issue-facing transplant today is the critical organ shortage. The kidney transplant wait list has increased at a much greater rate than the number of transplants performed. At our transplant center respecting Good Samaritan donor autonomy, obtaining informed consent and accepting altruistic motivations as a virtue is the philosophy of the transplant team. We also believe that Good Samaritan donation is an option for meeting the needs of patients with ESRD seeking kidney transplants.

What should you do if you are interested in being a living donor?

You should call your primary care physician, prior to calling the transplant center. Make an appointment, or the very least, a phone call to your primary care physician and express your interest in becoming a living donor. Most people can donate. Those who can't include anyone who has been treated for cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones, HIV or other communicable diseases.

Once you receive a clean bill of health, it's time to contact a transplant center. Each transplant center has its own criteria for eligibility, which includes a visit to a psychiatrist or social worker to ensure, among other things, that the gesture is made freely and without coercion. Then the process of finding the most compatible recipient begins.
Each year, the number of end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients waiting for a transplant increases. The persistent shortage of organs has challenged transplant patients and professionals to find alternative methods to increase organ donation. At one time, only family members were considered for live donation. Now spouses and other non-related donors are considered.

In this regard, Good Samaritan donation is now being considered and performed. In October of 1997, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Ethics Committee stated that anonymous donation was morally commendable and truly altruistic. In our transplant program, we have transplanted 411 living donors and more than 50 of these have been unrelated living donors. Unrelated donors ranged from in-laws, friends, students and co-workers to Good Samaritan donors. As of April 2001, we have transplanted eight ESRD recipients with kidneys from living Good Samaritan donors.

The Good Samaritan preoperative evaluation differs only slightly from the unrelated directed living donor. Both require psychiatric evaluation. Informed consent cannot be obtained if there is impaired judgment or impaired cognitive ability. Risk factors are discussed by the transplant coordinator initially and then reinforced by the psychiatrist and the transplant surgeon. Spousal and family support is addressed for the Good Samaritan donor.

At this time, Good Samaritan living donation is considered center directed and thus the potential recipient is identified from our center's list. All ABO compatible recipients are tissue-typed and cross-matched regardless of blood group. Recipients are identified using UNOS's guidelines for percent of reactive antibody, time waiting and match. Age match is also considered. The transplant team discusses the candidates to assure that the best candidate is chosen to afford the best possible outcome.

The number one issue-facing transplant today is the critical organ shortage. The kidney transplant wait list has increased at a much greater rate than the number of transplants performed. At our transplant center respecting Good Samaritan donor autonomy, obtaining informed consent and accepting altruistic motivations as a virtue is the philosophy of the transplant team. We also believe that Good Samaritan donation is an option for meeting the needs of patients with ESRD seeking kidney transplants.

What should you do if you are interested in being a living donor?

You should call your primary care physician, prior to calling the transplant center. Make an appointment, or the very least, a phone call to your primary care physician and express your interest in becoming a living donor. Most people can donate. Those who can't include anyone who has been treated for cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones, HIV or other communicable diseases.

Once you receive a clean bill of health, it's time to contact a transplant center. Each transplant center has its own criteria for eligibility, which includes a visit to a psychiatrist or social worker to ensure, among other things, that the gesture is made freely and without coercion. Then the process of finding the most compatible recipient begins.