In Québec, for several years now, a person can decide to donate one of their kidneys to a person with kidney failure during their lifetime. The Québec Living Kidney Donation Program, created in August 2018, aims, among other things, to raise awareness of this possibility and to better support potential donors during the process.

Kidney failure means that the kidneys are unable to filter and remove waste products from blood. It is often treated by dialysis, a replacement therapy that involves passing blood through a membrane to remove accumulated waste. A kidney transplant is another type of replacement therapy for kidney failure.

The kidney can come from a living or a deceased donor. Living kidney donation is, however, preferred since it:

  • gives better long-term results in terms of blood filtration efficiency and how long the transplanted kidney lasts;
  • significantly reduces the wait time for a transplant;
  • can reduce or prevent the need for dialysis treatments before a kidney transplant.

A living donor can be, for example, the recipient’s father, sister or cousin or, alternatively, a loved one who is not directly related to the recipient.

The results of a living donation will be just as good if the compatible donor is a partner, friend or co-worker as if they were a family member. The results will also be better than with a transplant from a deceased donor.

The donor may also not know a recipient and decide to donate a kidney. The kidney is transplanted into a person the donor does not know who is waiting for a transplant.