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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Division of Transplantation


Most of us don't think about our kidneys very often. They simply do their work and quietly help to keep us healthy and free to think about other things.

Sometimes though, when the kidneys do fail, they become a source of great concern, not only for the person whose kidneys have failed, but for their family members as well.

Family members often have many questions about kidney disease, its treatments and available treatment options and how it may affect them as it did their loved one. Many family members, both potential donors and recipients, are reluctant to bring up the topic of organ donation: recipients because they are afraid of making family members feel pressured to donate a kidney, and donors because they may be unaware of living donor transplantation, or more often because they are unsure of what to expect and how it will affect their own lives. For these reasons many who could benefit greatly by receiving a kidney, and family members who might genuinely wish to give this precious gift, avoid the topic altogether.

There are many misconceptions regarding kidney donation and transplantation i.e., most people are unaware of the fact that many people live long, perfectly healthy lives with only one kidney, regardless of the reason for their having one kidney (some people are born with only one kidney, others are lost to trauma).

Many people are also unaware of the fact that kidney disease affects not one kidney, but both. The second kidney does not work as a “spare” in case of kidney disease. What happens to one kidney, happens to both.

The purpose of this booklet is to offer you information which you may find helpful in understanding kidney failure and the option of living donor kidney transplantation.

The highly skilled transplant surgeons at University Hospital of Brooklyn have performed well over 2,400 transplants over the past 25 years, many of them from living donors.

If after reading this booklet you would like more information, the Transplant team at University Hospital would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Please feel free to call us at any time.