Organs that can be donated safely by a living donor include a kidney, a partial lung or a partial liver. Here are answers to some common questions about becoming a living donor:
Who can donate?
Donors must be at least 18 years old and in good health.
What happens after I sign up?
Potential donors are medically and psychologically screened to make sure they are healthy and free of disease.
What is the surgical procedure?
Organs are removed by traditional surgery. Kidneys also may be removed by laparoscopic surgery, in which surgical tools are inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. More about laparoscopic surgery
What is the risk?
All surgery involves risk; in this surgery it is minimal. In most cases, donors return to their normal activities in one to three weeks. Living with only one kidney poses little danger.
The costs-which include all tests, doctors' bills and hospital fees-are paid by Medicare or by the recipient's insurance. Transportation costs and time lost at work are usually not covered.
How do I register?
Call a transplantation center or a local organ-procurement center, such as the Kidney Transplant Center at Rhode island Hospital. To learn more, visit the United Network for Organ Sharing at www.unos.org.