Maine Medical Center
Doctor consulting with patient

Living Donation

Living kidney donation is a potentially life-saving treatment for someone suffering from end-stage kidney disease 

Across the country, thousands of patients await a kidney transplant. By becoming a living kidney donor, you spare someone years of waiting and complications associated with kidney failure. Overall health and a willingness to donate are the two most important factors needed to participate in the MaineHealth Living Donation Program.

The donation process is safe, effective and life changing.

Take the first step

Thank you for making the life-saving decision to donate a kidney. To get started, please complete our living donation questionnaire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Kidney donation has an excellent safety record, with approximately 6000 people safely donating annually. Most of the surgery is performed laparoscopically through three small upper abdominal incisions and a fourth, slightly larger, incision in the lower abdomen. 

Once you express interest in being a donor, our coordinators will review your primary care provider’s notes, your labs and cancer screenings. After your records have been reviewed, our coordinators will call to discuss with you the next steps. Generally, the time from self-referral to surgery is two to three months. 

Do I need to be related to the person who may receive the kidney? 

Even if you are not a match, you can still help a friend or loved one get a kidney transplant. MaineHealth has partnered with the National Kidney Registry to facilitate paired and advanced living kidney donation. Our donation team will discuss all the options with you. 

Donating a kidney carries some risk, though it is considered very low. MaineHealth has an excellent safety record and will follow your health for two years after your surgery. Much of the long-term risk from donation can be minimized by good preventative health care, like maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. 

You should be able to lead a normal healthy life after donating a kidney. During the first few months, you may experience some fatigue, though this generally resolves quickly. There is a lifting restriction for the first several months of recovery which may impact your ability to get back to the gym, however, in time you should be able to return to your family, work and hobbies. 

The evaluation testing, surgery and normal follow-up care are covered by the recipient’s insurance. If you have specific concerns, you may speak with our financial coordinator. 

You can still donate. If your friend or loved one is listed at a National Kidney Registry member center, we can help facilitate your donation. Please contact us so we can help you reach your goal. 

The average hospital stay for our donors is two to three nights. Occasionally, patients will stay longer so our team can help minimize pain and gastrointestinal discomfort.

We value your time and will work with you to minimize disruption to life. Throughout the evaluation, it will be necessary to take at least 2 full days off work. The surgery and following recovery will take at least 2-3 weeks but potentially more for certain lines of work that require heavy lifting. 

Our team will continue to follow you for two years following your donation. 

Yes, you will need to take some pain medication immediately after the operation and during your recovery. Many donors find acetaminophen effective and gradually take less and less around a week after the procedure. You should not need any long-term medication because of kidney donation. 

Yes, some people do have trouble with the decision. Many are a little nervous to have surgery but committed to donation, and our team prepares you for everything in the process so there are no surprises. The decision to donate should be yours alone and no one should pressure you. 

You reserve the right to withdraw your offer at any time and will be supported in your decision by the transplant team. The potential recipient would never know the reason for your withdrawal from the program.