Skip Navigation
request an appointment my chart notification lp musc-logo-white-01 facebook twitter youtube blog find a provider circle arrow
MUSC mobile menu
Transplant Services

Living Donor Transplants

There are 120,000 people on transplant waiting lists in the United States, and more than 500,000 are on dialysis. Most are waiting and hoping to receive a kidney from someone who has passed away. Unfortunately, due to the limited supply of organ donors, less than 17,000 kidney transplants occur each year. Many people may not realize that a kidney from a living donor is an important option for people needing a transplant.  In fact, the MUSC Transplant Center considers living donation to be the “gold standard” for kidney transplants. To find out if you could be a living donor, please contact the MUSC Health Living Donor Program at 843-792-1594.

Why Is a Living Donor the Gold Standard for Kidney Transplants?

  • Living donor kidney transplants may last longer, approximately 15-20 years.
  • Living donor kidney transplants may prevent or shorten time spent on dialysis.
  • A living donor kidney transplant can be scheduled, giving both the donor and recipient a chance to plan around work and family schedules, as well as holidays.

Who Can Be A Living Donor?

Potential donors can be a spouse, siblings, adult children, aunts, uncles, neighbors, church family, or perfect strangers. The donor does not have to be the same gender, race, or age as the recipient. The kidney donor will be evaluated to ensure that he/she is healthy enough to safely live with one kidney. At all times, donor safety is the top priority of the MUSC Transplant Center.

The Living Donor Process: Step-by-Step

The Donor Process is 100% elective from start to finish and moves at the pace of the donor’s convenience. The potential donor initiates communication with the Living Donor Program to demonstrate that no pressure is placed on the donor at any time. The purpose of this process is to see if the donor’s health is medically suitable for donation.


The potential donor contacts the Living Donor Program:

162 Ashley Avenue MSC 586
Charleston, SC 29425
Main Line: 843-792-1594
Fax: 843-876-2968

A Health History Form (HHF) is completed by the donor, providing contact information and a self-report of personal and family medical history, current conditions, and current medications. Once the HHF is received, the referral is processed by the TPA who assigns the donor a medical record number, requests financial clearance from the Financial Coordinator, and prepares the donor chart for nurse review. The NC reviews the HHF and determines basic donor suitability. Donors with high blood pressure that requires two or more medications to control, metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes or diabetes) and those who are over the BMI requirement are ruled out. The NC contacts the donor to relay the plan and next steps.


Screening orders for blood and urine testing are sent to the donor. Blood pressure monitoring is required for all donors. The monitors are either picked up locally or shipped to the donor depending on the donor’s location. Glucose Tolerance Testing is required for those with a family history of diabetes or those who demonstrate a greater risk of developing a metabolic syndrome. The donor completes these labs when convenient and the results are sent to the NC for review. Blood pressure monitors are downloaded after being worn for 24 hours and returned to the lab. The NC contacts the donor to relay the plan for the next steps.


Donor evaluation takes place over two days at MUSC Hospital and the Transplant Clinic. The donor is provided a schedule of appointments and a map of the MUSC campus. A list of Charleston-area hotels can be provided for the donor to arrange lodging with the help of MUSC Guest Services.


Donor surgery is performed under general anesthesia using a laparoscopic procedure. One of the factors that makes the MUSC Transplant Center an ideal place for a living kidney donation is our surgeons’ extensive experience with laparoscopic kidney removal. This minimally-invasive technique allows donors to recover faster, with less pain, thereby making it easier to donate a living kidney.

The MUSC Transplant Center has performed more than eight hundred living kidney transplants. To see specific data about these life-saving transplants, contact the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).


Immediately after surgery, the donor is taken from the Operating Room to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) located on the fourth floor of Main Hospital. From there, the donor will be moved to a private room to recover for 24-48 hours.
Discharge is planned for the donor to return home after surgery, although out-of-state donors are encouraged to remain close to the hospital for up to a week following donation. Full recovery may take up to 12 weeks but most donors return to work within two to four weeks after surgery.

What If I Cannot Donate, But I Still Want to Help?

Those who are ruled out or are not medically approved for donation can help in many ways. Become a champion for your intended recipient by spreading the word about the need for a living kidney donor. You may also choose to support the MUSC Living Donor Institute.


Living Donor Transplant Links:

Meet the Team

Register as a Donor