Bernie Richardson stands with Wanda McCollough, who became her living kidney donor.

22 people die every day waiting for an organ. The ability to save a life is within you.

What is living organ donation?

Living organ donation is an opportunity to save a life by giving one of your kidneys or part of your liver to someone who needs it. While many donors and recipients know each other, either as family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers or neighbors, there are also donors who decide to donate an organ to a stranger in need. If you are considering donation, Our experts at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute are here to help.

Can I really donate a kidney or liver while alive?

Most people are born with two kidneys, but can lead a long, normal life with one. In liver transplantation, a portion of the donor's liver is removed and transplanted in the recipient. Donor safety and recipient’s benefit are our top priorities. Because of the liver’s unique ability to regenerate, both the donor and recipient's liver grows back to almost normal size several weeks after transplantation.

Read our living liver donor brochure.

Why is living donation necessary?

Unfortunately, the wait for a deceased donor organ can be three to five years or longer for a kidney, and six months or longer for a liver. During this time, many potential recipients will get sicker and no longer be candidates, or even die while they are waiting. A living donor organ is very high quality, and can be scheduled in a very short amount of time. Living donation gets recipients transplanted quicker with outstanding results.

  • Living donation for kidney disease

    For people with renal disease, the kidneys no longer function. Eventually, a person with kidney failure will require dialysis, a very disruptive and difficult way to live. While dialysis can perform some of the kidney’s functions, an even better alternative is to be listed for a kidney transplant. Compared to dialysis, kidney transplantation has been proven to increase the length and quality of the recipient’s life.
  • Living donation for liver disease

    Likewise, when a patient experiences liver failure, the liver no longer functions properly. Eventually, the patient may require a liver transplant to stay alive. For liver patients, there is no alternative, like dialysis, so sometimes transplant is done urgently to save the person’s life. Nowadays, many liver tumors (both primary and metastatic) can be treated with liver transplantation. Living donor provides the unique opportunity to perform these transplants right at the perfect timing, without intervening with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation.

Experience matters. Transplants are nothing new to us.

Our transplant program at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute is nationally known as a leader in organ transplantation and has the highest volume and best outcomes of all local programs. Click here for more reasons.

For kidney donors, we are the only area hospital to offer living donor protections through the National Kidney Registry, such as wage and travel reimbursement, and protections should a family member ever need a transplant. Read about these here.

For more information call



Become a Donor

Benefits of living donation

The greatest benefit of living donation is the ability to help someone who is in need of a transplant, relatively quickly, by removing them from the deceased donor waiting list. And we’ve heard from donors that they receive extreme satisfaction with knowing they helped save a life.

Click here for additional benefits.

Who can donate?

Any healthy person can potentially donate an organ. You do not need to be genetically related or even know the organ recipient. Donors complete an initial questionnaire, and then undergo an extensive evaluation with lab work to make sure they are a suitable candidate. Donor safety is always our top priority and the transplant team will discuss any possible risks with potential donors.

Learn more.

Process for becoming a living donor

  1. Complete interest form and then online questionnaire to see if you are a candidate
  2. Speak with our living donor coordinator
  3. Undergo physical and mental evaluation, complete lab work, and any needed tests
  4. Schedule surgery

For more information call



Become a Donor

View our patient stories


  • What are the benefits of living donation?

    • Most recipients wait on the kidney transplant wait list three to five years and on the liver transplant list for six months or more. With a living donor, surgery can be scheduled within weeks.
    • Organs from living donors experience fewer episodes of rejection.
    • Organs from living donors typically last longer than organs from deceased donors.
    • Recipients receiving a transplant from a living donor can better prepare for surgery knowing well in advance when the transplant will take place.
    • The transplant can take place at a time that is convenient for both the donor and the recipient.
    • Living kidney donation may enable the recipient to stop dialysis sooner or avoid starting dialysis altogether.
  • Some basic qualifiers for living organ donors include:
    • Older than 18 years of age
    • Good overall physical and mental health
    • Normal organ function
    • Able to give informed consent
    • Fully understand the risks and benefits of donations
  • Why trust our experts at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute?

    • We have one of the most experienced transplant teams and highest volume programs:
      • More than 340 deceased and living donor kidney transplants a year
      • More than 110 deceased and living donor liver transplants a year
    • Our patients have access to some of the foremost organ transplant specialists in the country.
    • We transplant more minority patients than most area programs and have the experience to transplant people turned down elsewhere.
    • We are one of only a handful of transplant centers to offer the management of recipients with incompatible living donors.
    • We have one of the highest volume kidney transplant programs in the United States and this level of experience leads to better outcomes for our patients.
    • We are one of the few programs to offer innovative liver transplant options including split and domino transplants.
    • Visit and for program comparison.
  • What are some common myths about living donation?

  • What is a non-directed donor?

    Some people just know they want to donate an organ to help someone in need. A non-directed donor is someone who donates without having a specific recipient in mind to donate an organ. This can start a chain of transplants that helps many recipients.
  • How long is the donor in the hospital after surgery?

    A typical stay is 1-2 days for a kidney donor and 4-7 days for a liver donor. You can expect to return to normal activities relatively quickly.  The living donor coordinator will discuss the surgery, recovery and answer any questions you have.

Nine conveniently close locations

The donor evaluation can be accomplished at any of our convenient sites or begin with a video visit.
  • Washington, D.C.

    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
    3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
    Pasquerilla Healthcare Center (PHC), 2nd Floor
    Washington, DC 20007
    Get Directions>>
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    106 Irving St. NW
    Physician Office Building (POB) South Tower, Ste. 215
    Washington, DC 20010
    Get Directions >>
  • Maryland

    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute in Annapolis
    Annapolis Tech Park
    2629 Riva Rd., Ste. 110
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Get Directions >>
    MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    9000 Franklin Square Dr.,
    Ste. 120
    Baltimore, MD 21237
    Get Directions >>
    MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
    7503 Surratts Rd.
    Clinton, MD 20735
    Get Directions>>
    MedStar Georgetown Transplant at Dorsey Hall
    9501 Old Annapolis Rd.,
    Ste. 220
    Ellicott City, MD 21042
    Get Directions >>
    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute in Frederick
    163 Thomas Johnson Dr.,
    Unit E
    Frederick, MD 21702
    Get Directions >>
    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute in Gaithersburg (Liver only)
    12111 Darnestown Rd.
    Ste. A
    Gaithersburg, MD 20878
    Get Directions >>
  • Virginia

    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute in Fairfax
    3301 Woodburn Rd.,
    Ste. 209
    Annandale, VA 22003
    Get Directions >>

For more information call



Become a Donor