Types of Living Organ Donations


Related living donors are blood relatives of transplant candidates. They can be:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Children over age 18
  • Aunts, uncles, cousins, half-siblings, nieces, nephews


Unrelated living donors are individuals who have a relationship with but are not blood-related to a transplant candidate. They include:

  • Spouses
  • In-laws (related by marriage)
  • Close friends
  • Coworkers
  • Neighbors
  • Other acquaintances

Non-directed (kidney donations only)

Non-directed donors are living donors who are not related to or known by the transplant candidate. This type of donation is also referred to as an altruistic or Good Samaritan living donation.

Paired kidney exchange programs

If you want to be a living kidney donor, perhaps to a spouse, relative or close friend, but you aren’t a match, transplantation is still an option through kidney paired donation (KPD).

In the past, someone with kidney failure who had an incompatible donor had to wait for a deceased donor—a wait that can be lengthy. With kidney paired donation, however, kidneys can be “exchanged” between pairs, making multiple compatible living donor transplants possible.