The first step is the hardest!

If you need a kidney transplant, your best option is to receive a kidney from a living donor. But it’s easier said than done!
The truth is, there is an enormous physical and emotional toll of living with end-stage kidney disease, not to mention the exhaustion of dialysis treatment.
So it is not a surprise that finding a living donor can be overwhelming. In fact, the conversation is so difficult more than half of all people in need of a kidney transplant do not even ask one person to donate.
Though you may not want to ask, often friends and family members are eager to spread the word for you and help identify potential living donors.
Throughout your journey to transplantation, remember that a living kidney donation is your best option and sharing your need is the fastest way to identifying a potential living donor.

Finding Your Voice

To begin identifying potential living donors, start by discussing with your family and friends why your doctors are recommending a kidney transplant, explaining that living kidney donation is your best option.

It will be easier to initiate the conversation and find the right words to express your emotions with those closest to you. Each conversation you have will make you more confident to speak with others. If you feel you cannot find the right words to say in person, consider sending an email. During your conversations, let others know that you understand living donation may not be an option for everyone. Acknowledge that this is their decision and that your relationship will not change if they choose not to donate.

Living Kidney Donor Communication Tools

Here are a few ways to contact your family and friends and potential strangers who may be willing to be donors. Keep in mind that there is no “right way” to communicate your need. However, it is certain that the longest route to transplantation is to say nothing and wait in silence for a deceased kidney donation.


Identify a Donor Champion

Identify a Living Donor Champion

Identify a Living Donor Champion

You may not feel worthy to receive a living kidney donation, or you may feel guilty about making such a request. For these reasons, identify a Living Donor Champion from your close family and friends who can be your main supporter and voice for spreading the word about your kidney disease and need for transplantation. Your Living Donor Champion will also serve as the point of contact for anyone who wants more information about the process or how to be tested, thus making it easier for someone to come forward and ask for more information.

What Your Champion Needs to Know

It is important for your Donor Champion to become educated about the living donation process before reaching out to others. Some resources available are:
  • Ohio State’s Living Donor Program to learn donor criteria, the evaluation and surgery process, risks and frequently asked questions.
  • Contact the Ohio State Comprehensive Transplant Center at 800-293-8965 option 3 to answer any questions or schedule to attend an information session.

Additional Strategies

  • Start recruiting immediately.
  • Make a list of all family, co-workers and additional groups to contact (include email addresses). Also consider reaching out to local places of worship.
  • Start recruiting from friends and family first (siblings have the best chance of being great matches).
  • Give potential donors a wallet card as a starting point for research, rather than immediately asking them to donate a kidney. 
  • Ask willing donors to complete the Donor Assessment Form on the living donor webpage to start the process. If you are unsure if your donor is eligible to donate, still have them complete the donor assessment form or contact Ohio State directly at 800-293-8965 option 3.
  • Ask possible donors if they will consider taking a blood test to determine if they can donate. Explain that if they are not a match, the Paired Kidney Donation program is another option. Additional information can also be found on the living donor webpage.
  • Do not stop recruiting until a week before surgery. Have as many potential donors as possible willing to be tested in case of a last minute change.

Letter, Email, Flier

Write a Letter / Email

Write a Letter / Email

Send your family/friends a letter or email updating them with your condition and the progress being made to find a living donor. The holiday season is an optimal time to send such a letter; however a personal note can be sent at any time.

  • Ask your Living Donor Champion to send to family and friends on your behalf
  • Explain your situation
  • Educate on living kidney donation
  • List contact information for your Living Donor Champion and pre-transplant nurse coordinator at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center

Sample Letter

Dear (personalize letter),

I am writing to you about my (e.g., friend, brother, husband), (Recipient), to let you know about (his/her) current health challenge and how you can help. This is not an easy letter for me to write, but I know that without sending this, someone who might be interested in helping won’t have that opportunity.

(Recipient) is a wonderful person. (Talk about the recipient’s work, family, volunteer work, involvement with the community and anything that could connect with other people.) (Recipient) has end-stage kidney disease or kidney failure and has three options for treatment: dialysis, a kidney transplant from a deceased donor or a kidney transplant from a living donor. Dialysis is only a temporary solution. While (Recipient) can remain on dialysis for many years, it is not a cure for kidney disease. It is also physically exhausting and time-consuming, with treatment schedules as frequent as three times each week for four hours each session.

Since I care so much for (Recipient), I’m doing everything I can to help find (him/her) a living kidney donor. (Give a brief history of Recipient’s health challenges, whether on dialysis, had a previous transplant, how long waiting, how many other people have tried to help, etc. Potentially include a photo. If the Recipient has made many positive lifestyle changes, mention them. If you are unable to donate, explain why. If the Recipient is on dialysis, talk about how difficult it is to have a normal life while being on kidney dialysis. If not on dialysis, describe the routine.)

(Recipient) needs a new kidney, and we hope you will consider being tested to be a donor. (Be as straightforward as possible.) I know this is a big request. But I make it on behalf of someone who devotes every day of (his/her) life to making a difference to (his/her) family and friends. If you can help, please do. If you know anyone who might, please forward this on. Forwarding this to your family, friends, work, school, congregation or any other communities you belong to would be most gratefully appreciated.

If you would like to learn more about living kidney donation, please feel free to call me at (insert phone number). I want to be as helpful as possible. You can also visit or contact the Ohio State Comprehensive Transplant Center at 800-293-8965 option 3 and have a confidential conversation and get answers to any questions. Thank you so much!

Create a Flier

Create a flier to hang in local shops and around town. Include your name and a brief summary of your story. Also include Ohio State’s Living Donor webpage and phone number plus the email address of your Living Donor Champion for more information.

Online Networking

Online Networking

Online Networking

Social networking provides several tools for connecting with potential living donors. It is easy to connect with your entire social network, and allows for your friends to share with others outside your immediate social circle. Additionally, you can keep followers updated and link to other living donation websites.


Have your Living Donor Champion create a Facebook page on your behalf that people can “like” to follow your journey.
  • Share your personal journey
  • Post news stories about successful donations
  • Ask for a living donor
  • Post often and encourage people to share the post

Search "kidney donor champion pages" on Facebook for a listing of example pages.


Make a video telling your story and your need for a living kidney donation, post it to YouTube and then share on your Facebook page.

Church Bulletin

Post in Church Bulletins

Post in Church Bulletins

Have your Living Donor Champion post a short request in the bulletins of places of worship of family and friends. Since all major religions practiced in the U.S. support organ donation and consider it a generous act of caring, you may find potential donors from the congregation.

Bulletin Sample 1

You can save a life…living kidney donor needed. Just a few weeks ago, (insert Recipient’s name and community) was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease, and (his/her) best chance of survival lies in the hands of someone willing to be a living kidney donor. What can you do? If you are healthy, age 18-65 and are willing to donate at kidney, (Recipient) may be able to accept the transplant. If after prayerful consideration you might be moved to undergo surgery and be a living donor for (Recipient), information on the process can be found at or contact (Recipient’s) Living Donor Champion at (insert phone and/or email address).

Bulletin Sample 2

Prayers for (Recipient), who is in need of a kidney transplant. If you are willing to give the gift of life, please call 800-293-8965 option 3 or contact (his/her) Living Donor Champion at (insert phone and/or email address).

Non-Conventional Ads

Non-Conventional Advertising

Non-Conventional Advertising

Car Windshield Ad

Consider having your Living Donor Champion place a simple donor request on their back windshield including their contact information. Watch this video for other unique messaging ideas.

Radio Ad

Reach out to your local radio station to ask them if they can share your story. View example

Patient success stories


Brothers Chad and Rick

Chad (left) still isn't sure how he ended up in renal failure, he is sure he can count on his brother Rick (right) who jokes, "He's my brother and he's family. If he needs it, he's got it. That's what family does."


Carl, pictured with his wife Louise, received a kidney from his daughter-in-law.

Carl of Kettering, Ohio had a kidney transplant in 2003 after nine years on dialysis. Since his transplant, he and his wife Louise celebrated their 50th anniversary and welcomed two great-grand children.


Rollie made the decision to be a non-directed donor after watching Ohio State's television broadcast on organ donation and transplantation.


Christie (left) received a kidney from her mother Barbara (right).

“I’m so appreciative of what my mother did. I take good care of the gift she gave me.”


Jason, held by his wife and kids, received a kidney from a donor he met through Facebook.


Evans donated a kidney to his son.

“Giving life to another person is a blessing.”


Lanny (striped shirt with his wife Carol) received a kidney from his cousin Jay (blue shirt with his wife Ginny).


Jon (center) received his first kidney from his mom Betty (left) in 1974 and a second kidney from his wife Joyce (right) in 2012.


John received a kidney from his daughter Samantha.

John knew his kidneys would fail one day, and his daughter, Samantha, was by his side, ready to donate. "I didn't have to die to be able to help someone though organ donation," she says. "We have the means to help each other through living donation."


Pictured with his family, George (seated) received a kidney from his step-daughter Tammy (left).

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