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Click on the links below to learn more about the organ donation process.

Types of donation

Who can donate?

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Transplant waiting list

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resources and support

Margo and Kevin Klug
Margo & Kevin Klug

Each year in May, right around Mother’s Day, Kevin Klug, a civil engineer from Waterford Township, and his mom, Margo Klug of Hartford, celebrate their kidney-versary. They remember the day that Kevin saved his mom’s life with a kidney transplant.

Types of Organ Donation

Deceased donation:

Deceased donation occurs when a person passes away and they or their family member consented to give the gift of life.

Living donation:

Living donation is when a living person (the donor) donates an organ (or part of an organ) to be put into, or transplanted to, another living person (the recipient). This is usually done because the recipient’s organ is no longer functioning adequately. The living donor can be a family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister. It’s also known as a “living related donation”.

A living donation can also come from someone who is emotionally related to the recipient, such as a spouse, good friend, or an in-law. It’s also known as a “living unrelated donation”. Thanks to improved medications, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required for a successful transplant.

In some cases, a living donation can be from an acquaintance or even a stranger. This is known as an anonymous, non-directed or altruistic donation.

What organs can come from living donors?

Kidneys are the most common organs donated by living donors. Parts of other organs, including the lung, liver and pancreas are now being transplanted from living donors.

What are the advantages of living donation over deceased donation?

Kidney transplants from living donors have several advantages over transplants from deceased donors:Organ donation

  • Some living donor transplants take place between family members who are genetically similar. A better genetic match reduces the risk of rejection.
  • A kidney from a living donor usually functions immediately, because the kidney is out of the body for only a very short time. Some deceased donor kidneys do not function immediately, and the recipient may need dialysis until the kidney starts to function.
  • Potential living donors are tested ahead of time to find the donor who is most compatible with the recipient. The transplant can then take place at a time convenient for both donor and recipient.

Are transplants from living donors always successful?

Although transplants are becoming increasingly more common, and are highly successful with success rates continuing to improve, problems may occur. Sometimes, the kidney is lost to rejection, surgical complications or the original disease that caused the recipient’s kidney to fail. If you are already in contact with staff at a kidney transplant center, talk to them about their success rates and national success rates for kidney transplants.

Living Kidney Donor Facts

  • To donate a kidney, you must be in good health and have normal kidney function.
  • Donors are never paid. Under federal law, it is illegal to receive money or gifts in exchange for an organ donation.
  • If you are considering living donation, it is important to educate yourself and make sure you understand the risks and benefits of donation.

Asian father in wheelchair talking with son.

White couple hiking together.

Two Black men hugging.

Who can donate?

You can! Sign up for the Michigan Donor Registry

More than 2,000 people in Michigan are currently waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant. You can help those waiting by adding your name to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

How do I get on the kidney transplant waiting list?

To start the process of applying for a kidney transplant or for more information, contact a kidney transplant center near you.

There is Guidance for Finding a Living Donor

Big Ask Big Give logoDue to the length of the kidney transplant waiting list, potential kidney recipients wait an average of 3 to 5 years for a chance at an improved life. For those wishing to find potential living donors, the National Kidney Foundation has developed “THE BIG ASK: THE BIG GIVE.” This initiative features free, interactive workshops that educate and raise awareness about kidney donation and transplants.

For more information or to sign up for an upcoming workshop, visit the Big Ask Big Give workshop page.

More about Organ and Tissue Donation

  • Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or medical history. Anyone can easily sign up to be an organ and tissue donor on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. Potential donors are assessed at the time of death to determine what organs and tissues can be donated.
  • Most major religions support organ and tissue donation, and view signing up on the donor registry as an act of love. To find out more about different religious perspectives on organ donation, visit United Network for Organ Sharing living donation page.
  • Organ and tissue donors can have an open casket funeral, or any type of funeral chosen by the donor and their family. During the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.
  • Signing up to be an organ and tissue donor does not interfere with medical care at any point in your life. If you are sick or injured and go to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Signing up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry will not affect your health care. By law, the care team treating you is completely separate from the organ transplant team.
  • In the United States, it is illegal to buy or sell organs or tissues for transplantation. Life-saving transplants are available only when a deceased donor or donor family has consented to provide the gift of life. Donors are not paid, nor do recipients pay donors for organs.
  • There are certain criteria that determine the order of those on the organ transplant waiting list. When you are on the list, all that counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type and other important medical information. There are currently more than 2,000 people in Michigan waiting for a life-saving transplant. For more information or to be evaluated for an organ transplant, please refer to the list of Michigan Transplant Centers below.

Bilingual Support

Hispanics/Latinos are 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to suffer from kidney failure. If you or someone you know has kidney disease and needs resources in Spanish, get the facts about options from the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ bilingual website.

For more information on the organ donation process, visit Gift of Life Michigan.

Learn More about NKFM's Programs

Distance Learning

The NKFM offers evidence-based and scientific advisory board approved programs from your home.   

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentor with patient

Peer Mentors are individuals who have walked the same path and may understand the kidney patient experience better than friends, family, and the health care team.


The CKD internship program provides a 2-8 hour per week internship in a NKFM office for people living with chronic kidney disease.