What Does It Mean to Be a Living Donor?

In the advanced world of modern medicine, the number of types of organs and tissue that can be used from one person to help another is rapidly increasing. From skin to hearts to corneas and retinas, modern medicine is capable of taking a wider and wider variety of organs and tissue from the deceased and using them to save and prolong the lives of others.

At one time, organs were only used from deceased donors, since we generally need our organs to function. Now, however, science is discovering that some of our organs — like the liver — will actually regenerate in the donor, which means they can actually make certain donations while living. These are known as living donations.

Some of the most common living organ donations are livers, kidneys, and lungs, but portions of the intestine and pancreas are also a possibility. Unlike the liver, the kidneys and lungs do not regenerate. The donor can still donate a portion of these organs while still living, however, and still maintain adequate function from what is left. In the case of kidneys, donors generally donate one kidney and the remaining kidney provides enough function to properly and appropriate filter waste from the body.

In the case of lung donation, recipients generally require two donors that each donate the lower portion of one lung. One donor gives a portion of the lower right lobe of the lung and the other giving a portion of the lower left half of the lung. Lung donations are among the more complicated however, because in addition to being a tissue match, donors also need to have lungs of the right volume and size to be an appropriate match.

Because of the advances in medical technology, better and better matches are being made and a greater understanding is being developed as to how to get the recipient's body to accept the donated organs and tissue.

Family members that have a direct genetic match generally have the best chance of having their donated organs accepted by the recipient. As technology advances, however, so does the demand for organs. Living donations help to offset some of this demand and as technology advances, donors have a better and better shot at their donations not being given in vain.

Curious about becoming an organ donor? Our team at Breathe for Charles encourages you to take the time and understand what you can accomplish by becoming a donor. After you understand the benefits, you should consider pledging with us.

Sign the pledge today to become an organ donor.