If you have two healthy kidneys, you may be able to donate one of your kidneys to save someone else’s life. Both you and the recipient of your kidney (the person who got your kidney) can live with just one healthy kidney.

If you are interested in giving a kidney to someone you know, the first step is to contact the transplant center where that person is registered. You will need to have an evaluation at the transplant center to make sure that you are a good match for the recipient and that you are healthy enough to donate. If you are a match, healthy, and willing to donate, you and the recipient can schedule the transplant at a time that works for both of you. If you are not a match for the person you know, but are still willing to donate your kidney so that the recipient you know can receive a kidney that is a match, paired donation may be an option for you. Learn more about paired donation.

Another way to donate a kidney while you are still alive is to register as a living kidney donor who will give a kidney to someone you do not necessarily know. This is called living non-directed donation. If you register as a living non-directed donor, you might be asked to donate a kidney when you are a match for someone who is waiting for a kidney in your area. You will never be forced to donate; if you are called to donate, you may decide at that point if you are ready and willing. If you decide you want to register as a living non-directed donor, the first step is to contact transplant centers to talk about this option.

Learn more about living organ donation here.