Kidney paired donation

 Kidney paired donation is a program that matches transplant candidates with suitable living donors. It gives people the chance to become a living kidney donor while ensuring that someone they want to help receives a needed kidney, even if they are not a direct match. Canada’s Kidney Paired Donation program is run by Canadian Blood Services, working with the living kidney donation and kidney transplant programs across the country. 

FAQs: Kidney Paired Donation Program

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Who can participate in kidney paired donation?

The transplant candidate must first be referred for kidney transplant evaluation by their kidney doctor. The potential donor can then contact the living donation program nearest to where they live to let them know they are interested in donating a kidney to that person. Both the potential donor and the transplant candidate must complete medical tests and evaluations to ensure they are healthy enough to have the surgeries.

Sometimes, the potential donor’s blood and/or tissue type does not match the transplant candidate’s blood and/or tissue type. In this case, the donation and transplant cannot be done because the transplant candidate’s body will reject the kidney.

A potential donor and transplant candidate in this situation are called an “incompatible pair.” Even though they are not a match with each other, incompatible pairs can consider taking part in a donor swap by enrolling in the Kidney Paired Donation program. A donor swap can include two or more pairs. Each donor donates a kidney and every transplant candidate receives a kidney.

kpd chain

Do you have to be part of a pair to donate in the kidney paired donation program?

No. People who are willing to donate a kidney without a specific candidate in mind can also enroll in the Kidney Paired Donation program. These donors are called “non-directed anonymous donors,” or NDADs, for short. They can kickstart a domino chain effect, with their one donation triggering several transplants. The chain ends with a candidate on a deceased kidney donor wait-list receiving a kidney from the last donor, who is not a match to anyone in the registry.

Do you have to be part of a pair to donate in the kidney paired donation program

What are the benefits of taking part in the kidney paired donation program?

The Kidney Paired Donation program gives incompatible donors another way to help someone they know receive a kidney. It also gives people who want to donate a kidney to anyone in need, an NDAD, the possibility of helping more than one transplant candidate. The benefit of a national program is that it includes pairs from all over Canada, not just one transplant program or one province. This increases the chance of candidates finding a match.

For transplant candidates:

  • Your time waiting for a transplant may be shortened.
  • A transplant can reduce the time you are on dialysis.
  • A transplant may even prevent you from needing to start dialysis. 
  • A kidney from a living donor usually lasts longer than a kidney from a donor who has recently died.

For potential donors:

  • You can help someone you know who needs a kidney transplant, even if you’re not a match for that person.
  • You can donate anonymously to help others receive their kidney transplants.
  • You can improve the life and health of the patient who receives your kidney.
  • You can improve the lives of the patient’s family members as well.

Who can join the kidney paired donation program?


You can be registered as a transplant candidate in the Canadian Kidney Paired Donation program if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are eligible for a kidney transplant in Canada.
  • You have a living donor who is willing and medically able to donate a kidney.
  • You are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or you are covered under a provincial, territorial or federal health insurance program while living in Canada.
  • You do not have to be on dialysis to be registered.


You can be registered as a potential donor in the Kidney Paired Donation program if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are an adult in general good health.
  • You are willing to take part in a swap or be registered as a non-directed anonymous donor.
  • You have passed the required medical and psychological tests, through a living kidney donor program, to make sure that it is safe for you to donate.

What else should I know about kidney paired donation?

Kidney paired donation is an established practice in kidney transplantation around the world. In Canada, registered pairs and non-directed anonymous donors have been matched through the Kidney Paired Donation program since 2009.

Surgery is required for donating a kidney and for receiving a kidney and any type of surgery always has some risks. Staff members with your living donation program will discuss these risks with potential donors.

The donations in the Kidney Paired Donation program are anonymous. This means that donors will not be told any information about the person who receives their kidney. Transplant candidates will be told some medical information about the donor with the donor’s consent. However, this only includes the information needed for the transplant candidate to make an informed decision about whether to accept the matched kidney.

Learn more about kidney paired donation.