Kidney donation at the UVM Medical Center

A kidney transplant is the best way to improve a person’s life once they have developed advanced kidney failure and require dialysis. Transplants from living donors have a better chance of success than those from deceased donors, with a 90-95% success rate.

In the United States, patients often wait years for a kidney donor match. Choosing to become a kidney donor can help change the life of a friend, family member or stranger in need of a transplant.

Becoming a kidney donor

Donating a kidney is a major decision, and the UVM Medical Center transplant team is here to help you navigate this process. You will be assigned an Independent Living Donor Advocate (ILDA) who will promote your best interests and rights and help you fully understand the benefits and risks of organ donation.

Kidney donation is a personal choice. It is important that you are making the choice to donate a kidney of your own free will, without pressure or in exchange for anything of value.

Living Donor Referral Form - Please fax or mail the completed referral form.

Kidney donation criteria

  • You are at least 14 years old, but preferably 18 or older
  • You do not have a history of diabetes (Type 1 or 2)
  • You have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 34.0
  • You do not have any active cancers, or you have met any cancer wait times
  • You do not have high blood pressure
    • If you are under 50 years old, you are not on any medication to control high blood pressure
    • If you are 50 years old or older, you are on no more than one medication to manage high blood pressure and have no indication of kidney damage
  • There is no evidence of a NOTA violation, meaning you are not receiving any type of compensation for your kidney donation as defined by law
  • You are able to make an informed decision to consent to donation
  • You do not have any active or recurring infections
  • You do not have a mental health illness to the degree that it can impair your ability to make an informed decision
  • You were not recently diagnosed with a psychiatric illness meeting DMS-5 criteria nor had a recent acute mental health event
  • You are not HIV positive

Living donor evaluation

Before you can donate a kidney, you will need to undergo a thorough medical, social and financial evaluation with the transplant team. The goal of this evaluation is to ensure you are healthy enough to donate a kidney and are able to maintain both your physical and mental health after donation.

To determine your eligibility, you will undergo a multi-day evaluation process which will include:

  • An initial conversation with your ILDA
  • An education session with the Living Donor Coordinator
  • A clinic evaluation, in which you will meet with a:
    • Nephrologist
    • Surgeon
    • Registered dietitian
    • Licensed social worker
    • Pharmacist
    • Financial coordinator
  • A medical evaluation, which includes:
    • Glofil test to measure kidney function
    • Computerized tomography (CT) angiogram to identify any heart conditions
    • Chest X-ray to see if your lungs are healthy
    • Electrocardiogram (EKG) stress test to monitor the functioning of your heart

Other tests and evaluations may be performed as needed. For many potential donors, this may include a visit with a psychiatrist.

Prior to your evaluation, you will be required to have all health maintenance up to date (such as a mammogram and/or pap smear for women, prostate exam for men and colonoscopy).

What to expect from kidney donation

Kidney donation (donor nephrectomy) is typically performed through a laparoscopic procedure, in which a surgeon will remove your kidney through a small incision in your abdomen. This minimally invasive procedure is associated with less pain and a shorter recovery time than traditional open surgery.

Kidney donation requires long-term follow up care. In addition to physical outcomes, there can be significant emotional and psychological impacts associated with kidney donation. The Transplant Program can connect you with resources to help you manage the process, both before and after donation.

Paired Kidney Donation at the UVM Medical Center

The UVM Medical Center Transplant Team has formed a partnership with the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation (APKD). APKD exists to aid transplant candidates through living donation. APKD and UVM Medical Center Transplant Team have shared goals to match hard to transplant candidates with living donors, provide donor protection services and reduce wait times for their recipients. 

AKPD living donor participants get lost wage reimbursement as well as travel expenses through the Donor Protection Program. Altruistic or non-directed AKPD living donor participants are eligible for APKD KidneyPledge which protects the donor in the event a family member or friend needs a kidney transplant in the future.


Call: 802-847-4774