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What are Kidney Donor Search Champions and Why Do They Matter?

Samantha Hil, Microsite Project Manager

More than 90,000 people in the United States need a kidney transplant. In most cases, a transplant using a kidney from a living donor is the best option. Searching for a living donor requires a great deal of work, however, and kidney patients can’t do it all alone.

A kidney donor search champion is someone who helps a kidney patient find a living donor. Why do we use the word “champion” rather than something milder, like “advocate” or “supporter?” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “champion” as a “warrior,” someone who “does battle” for someone else. That’s what a kidney donor search champion is.

While kidney patients certainly need advocates or supporters who provide moral support and help in a variety of ways, such as driving them to medical appointments, helping them manage their medications and diet, and dealing with insurance and medical records, a champion has a more forceful role: to fight for the patient, leaving no stone unturned until a living donor is found.

The idea of “fighting” may not be a natural one for most kidney patients and their families and friends. Many people in need of a transplant are reluctant to ask for help or even share their story, and they certainly don’t feel physically and emotionally equipped to “fight.”

That’s why every kidney patient needs a champion. The champion fights on their behalf, so they don’t have to. The primary job of the champion is to get the word out about the patient’s need for a living kidney donor by any means necessary. This could involve:

  • Social media posts
  • Reaching out to friends, acquaintances and community groups
  • Getting coverage from local news organizations
  • Creating T-shirts, signs, bumper stickers, billboards
  • Providing information on kidney donation to interested parties

If you are in need of a kidney transplant and are looking for a living kidney donor, make sure you have a champion on your team to fight for you. And remember, you can have more than one champion! The more champions you have, the more people they can reach, and the better your chances of finding a living kidney donor. Champions can have a profound impact on the donor search process. Their involvement is often the key to turning a challenging journey into a hopeful and ultimately life-affirming experience.