Skip Navigation

At Atrium Health Transplant Center, specially trained surgeons and other healthcare professionals work together on organ-specific transplant teams, meaning your transplant is handled by experts in the field of kidney or pancreas transplant.

Carolinas Medical Center has been a leading center for kidney transplantation since 1970, when the first kidney transplant was performed. Our kidney transplant program has continued to grow steadily, performing ore than 5,000 pediatric and adult kidney transplants to date.

Living Donor Kidney Transplants

There are two types of kidney transplants. A deceased-donor transplant means the organ comes from someone who has died (this person designated their wishes to be an organ donor before death). Because most healthy people can live with just one kidney, living donors are also a possibility. A living-donor transplant means the organ is from a living relative, loved one or even someone matched up with you from a “paired kidney exchange.”

Kidney transplantation from a living donor may mean:

  • Decreased time on dialysis, or even avoiding dialysis completely
  • Greater long-term success rates of the transplant
  • Decreasing the many years patients may spend on the organ donor waiting list

At Atrium Health Transplant Center, living donors are assigned a donor advocate. This is an internal medicine doctor who will work directly with the living organ donor, helping guide you through the process of donating a kidney. The living donor team also consists of nurses who will act as coordinators, guiding you through the donation process, and laparoscopic donor surgeons, who guide you from pre-screening through post-surgery.

How Do I Become a Living Donor?

Learn as much as you can about living donation, and talk to your doctor and family before making this important decision. If interested in becoming a living donor, please complete and return this form.

Learn more about living donation:
Transplant Living
Living Kidney Donors Network

Donating a Kidney to a Person in Need – How Shelly Saved One Stranger’s Life

Wait List Maintenance

When patients are on the waiting list, they will be routinely scheduled for a re-evaluation visit at the Transplant Center. Patients and dialysis units are asked to keep the Transplant Center updated with any changes in patients’ condition that may affect candidacy, as well as with changes in address, phone number, dialysis center location and health insurance.

How Organs Are Allocated

Organ allocation guidelines are based on United Network for Organ Sharing and Organ Procurement Transplant Network policies that include medical criteria, as well as equitable utilization of organs. The current kidney allocation policy considers characteristics of the deceased donor and the transplant candidate in allocating kidneys equally, efficiently and effectively.

When a kidney becomes available, the referring physician will be notified prior to calling the patient.

Living Donor FAQ

Living donors are required to be at least 18. Although there is no age limit, we screen each individual carefully and require additional testing for those over the age of 60. Your safety is our main focus.

Donors can be parents, children, siblings, other family and friends, co-workers, etc. Donors need to be in good health and free of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, sickle cell disease, HIV or hepatitis. Every donor will be screened individually for suitability for donation.

While living donor transplants from the patients' relatives are considered the most beneficial, transplanted kidneys from living unrelated donors also have excellent success rates. Both types of living donor transplants are more likely to be successful than a deceased donor transplant.

In fact, recent studies have shown that a kidney from an unrelated living donor lasts as long as or longer than the best matched kidney from a deceased donor. In addition, the rejection rate for a living donor is significantly lower.

Your donor team will discuss all health risks with you. The risks of donation are similar to those involved with any other major surgery, such as bleeding and infection. Death from kidney donation is extremely rare. (0.03 percent of recipients, or three in 10,000) Research shows kidney donation does not change your life expectancy or increase a person's risks of developing kidney disease or other health problems. Research has shown that one kidney is sufficient to keep the body healthy, but we encourage a yearly physical and blood work with your primary care physician.

All routine testing required for the living donor evaluation as well as the hospitalization costs and physician services provided during the donation process are covered either by the recipient's insurance or Carolinas Medical Center Transplant Center. Transplant-related complications are also covered for at least 90 days. Living donors are responsible for their routine health maintenance testing (Pap smear, mammogram, colonoscopy, etc.) or medical clearance that may be required for pre-existing conditions.

Travel expenses, child care and lost wages may also be the donor's responsibility. It is important for donors and their families to consider the financial impact of these possible expenses. You may be eligible for assistance for travel, hotel, food, etc., with the "Living Donor Assistance Fund." Review the resource available through the National Living Donor Assistance Center. Your coordinator will help you with this application, if needed.

You will have a post-op appointment with your surgeon at about two weeks after surgery and again at eight weeks. Additional follow up will be scheduled at six months, one year and two years after surgery. This will allow us to monitor your kidney function, blood pressure and overall general health. After two years, we recommend annual check-ups with your primary care physician. If you do not have one, we will encourage you to find one.

If you are healthy and without signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or any other major medical issues, review the Information for Potential Living Donors packet and complete the Medical History Form: English | en Español (PDF)

Once we have received your completed forms, we will contact you to begin the evaluation which includes:

  • Blood work for compatibility with your intended recipient
  • Blood work and urine studies to assess your medical status
  • Appointments with a nurse coordinator, social worker, nephrologist, surgeon and our living donor advocate
  • Chest X-ray
  • EKG
  • CAT scan of abdomen and pelvis to view organs

You will be responsible for providing the following test results as applicable:

  • Recent (within one year) Pap smear result for females over 18
  • Mammogram report for females over 40 or younger if you have a family history of breast cancer
  • Colonoscopy results for patients over 50 (men and women)

Forms may be mailed to:
CMC Transplant Center/Living Donor Office
P.O. Box 32861, Charlotte, NC 28232

Or faxed to 704-355-4910.

For additional information on the referral process, contact the Kidney Intake team at 704-355-6649 or 800-562-5752.

If you have additional questions, please call our Living Donor office at 704-355-3602.

For Providers

When to Refer a Patient for Kidney or Kidney-Pancreas Transplant

If you are a physician, you can learn more about referring patients here.