Increasingly, more living donor transplants are performed in the United States each year. With over 80,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, the kidney is the organ most commonly donated and the one needed the most. Living donors may also donate a portion of their liver or lung to give others a second chance at life. Nationwide, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans make up 35% of the individuals on the waiting list for kidney transplants. In North Carolina and in many other Southern states, that figure exceeds 60%.
Any type of surgery involves risks but there are a number of benefits to living kidney donation.
- Patients don’t always have to get on the transplant waiting list
- The surgery can actually be scheduled at a convenient time
- Statistically, transplants from living donors are more successful
Immediate family members are most likely to be a good match. Close friends and even strangers can however donate a kidney. If you are interested in becoming a living donor, contact the Transplant Department at Carolinas Medical Center, the only transplant center in the region. http://www.carolinashealthcare.org/cmc-transplant
Fortunately, many of the leading causes of organ failure such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer can be prevented. Being healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle not only will keep you from needing a transplant, but will keep your organs healthy in case you ever want to become a living donor.
To lead a healthier lifestyle, follow these tips:
- Limit foods high in salt, cholesterol and saturated fats such as fried foods
- Exercise regularly – at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes
- Have your blood pressure checked at least twice a year
- Get tested for diabetes and other illnesses that can lead to organ failure
- Don’t smoke cigarettes or use other harmful/illegal substances
- Visit your doctor at least once a year for a full check-up
Additional information for people interested in living donation or who have had an organ transplant is available at www.transplantliving.org.