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Donor Search Tip: Don’t Try to Convince Someone to Donate a Kidney

EJ Tamez

In the course of your search for a living kidney donor, you will experience a wide range of reactions to your appeal.

If someone is interested in being your kidney donor but is worried about a specific obstacle, the National Kidney Registry offers a wide range of solutions designed to address specific disincentives to kidney donation.

Things like financial loss from taking time off from work, travel expenses, concern about future complications or need for a kidney transplant, and even whether they are a good match for you are all surmountable issues if the person is willing to be a donor. (For more information, see our blog post on why you should never rule anyone out as a living kidney donor.)

However, if someone is simply not interested in donating a kidney, don’t try to talk them into it. Donating a kidney is a personal decision that everyone must make for themselves. Everyone has their own feelings about kidney donation, surgery, and other aspects of the experience, and has a right to those feelings.

No one wants someone to donate because they feel pressure to do so or have been “talked into it,” and in fact the donor screening process will address these issues to ensure the donor is aware of all risks and is fully on-board with being a donor. Even if you are able to convince someone to donate, if they feel pressured into it there is a greater chance they will change their mind before the surgery, leaving you back at square one.

If you have actually asked someone to donate, rather than simply share your story as you would a stranger, chances are it is a family member or friend. As you go through your kidney transplant journey, you will need as much goodwill and support as possible. Don’t jeopardize a potentially valuable friend or ally by trying to pressure them into being tested as a donor.

That person could be helpful in other ways, by joining your donor search team to help with caretaking or administrative tasks, or being a champion for your cause by spreading the word on social media and with their own circle of acquaintances.

If you get a negative response to your request, keep things positive by sincerely thanking them for listening to your appeal for a kidney donor then moving on to other potential donors. There are many people who would welcome the chance to be your donor—the more you spread the word, the better your chances of finding them.