Am I eligible to be a living kidney donor?

Living Kidney Donor Eligibility

Any adult who is in good health can be assessed to become a living donor. Every potential donor must have a complete medical checkup to make sure they are healthy enough to donate a kidney to a person in need. However, there are many factors that must be considered. Being informed is a vital process in becoming a living kidney donor. Find out if you are eligible and learn more about how living donation works.

Eligibility questions

Is there an age requirement for being a living kidney donor?

The minimum age to donate a kidney in Canada depends on which province or territory you live in.   

  • The minimum age is 19 years old in:  
    • Nova Scotia, 
    • New Brunswick, 
    • Newfoundland and Labrador,  
    • Prince Edward Island,  
    • British Columbia,  
    • Northwest Territories,  
    • Nunavut, and  
    • Yukon 
  • The minimum age is 18 years old in: 
    • Alberta,  
    • Manitoba,  
    • Ontario,  
    • Quebec, and 
    • Saskatchewan 
    • There is no strict upper age limit for donating in Canada if the donor is in good health.  

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have had cancer?

If you have had cancer, your eligibility to donate a kidney depends on the type of cancer you had and how long you have been cancer-free.

In some circumstances, depending on the type of cancer and your family history of cancer, the living donor team may require an assessment by a doctor who specializes in cancer (an oncologist) to determine if you can donate. This is to ensure your safety as well as the safety of your transplant recipient. Certain types of cancers can be passed on from a donor to a recipient through kidney transplantation.  

If you have a history of skin cancer:  

  • Squamous cell or basal cell: You are eligible to donate if your treatments were successful. 
  • Melanoma: You may be eligible to donate if your melanoma was treated at a very early stage and if you are at least five years from your successful treatment.  

If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have diabetes?

If you have diabetes you are not eligible to donate in almost all cases. 

In some exceptional cases, such as if you are older and have recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, it is controlled with medication and you are otherwise quite healthy, you might be eligible to donate. Please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

If you have a history of any of the following you will need to be assessed by a doctor: 

  • Gestational diabetes (high blood sugar levels during pregnancy) elevated fasting blood sugars. 
  • A family history of Type 2 diabetes, even if you don’t have diabetes yourself. 
  • Significant risk factors for developing diabetes, such as obesity. 

If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have, or had, a heart condition?

If you have heart disease (called coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease), have had a stroke or mini-stroke (also called a transient ischemic attack or TIA), peripheral vascular disease (such as an amputation) or have had a heart attack, you are not eligible to donate. 

If you have mild valvular disease, you might be eligible to donate but will need to be further assessed by a doctor. Please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Is there a maximum weight to be a living kidney donor?

Your doctor will use your weight and height to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which typically must be less than 35 to be eligible to donate. In some circumstances, depending on your overall health status, a lower BMI may be required prior to kidney donation. Your local living donation program can provide you with more information.   

To calculate your BMI, you can enter your height and weight into this BMI calculator: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

Can I be a living kidney donor if I am planning to become pregnant in the future?

Yes. However, you should be aware that if you donate before having children, you are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure during your pregnancy and possibly a condition known as preeclampsia (high blood pressure and problems with some of your organs like your liver and kidneys) during your pregnancy. These conditions can be monitored and treated by your prenatal care/obstetrical care team. Your local living donor program can tell you more about this. 

Pregnancy after donating a kidney does not harm your baby. As an example, there is no increased risk of low birth weight, stillbirth or delivering prematurely.

Did you know? We recruit healthy volunteer expectant mothers to donate cord blood at four designated hospitals in Canada. Learn more about donating cord blood.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have had children?

If you have had children, you can become a living kidney donor. Your living donation team will ask you about pregnancy-related problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes during your pregnancy to determine if kidney donation is right for you.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV?

If you have active HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, you are not eligible to donate.  

If you have had hepatitis B or hepatitis C and have cleared the infections, you might be eligible to donate. 

If you have HIV and are currently receiving treatment, you might be eligible to donate a kidney to someone in need who also has HIV. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have high blood pressure?

If you are over the age of 40 and your blood pressure is well controlled on two or less blood pressure medications with no additional risk factors such as high cholesterol, obesity, and history of smoking, you might be eligible to donate.  

You are not eligible to donate if:  

  • You are taking three or more medications to treat high blood pressure, 
  • you currently have uncontrolled high blood pressure, 
  • you have experienced damage to your organs due to high blood pressure, 
  • you are under the age of 40 and have high blood pressure. 

Please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have had kidney stones?

If you have had kidney stones or have had bariatric or gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, you will require additional testing to find out if you are eligible to donate. This additional testing is to better understand your risk of getting kidney stones in the future. Please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Can I be a living kidney donor if someone in my family has kidney disease?

If you have a family history of kidney disease, such as polycystic kidney disease or Alport syndrome, you will require additional testing to find out if you are eligible. Please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

Can I be a living kidney donor if I have blood in my urine?

If you have a history of blood in your urine you will require additional testing to find out if you are eligible to donate.

If I am not eligible to be a living kidney donor how can I help?

If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact your local living donation program to find out more.

There are many ways to donate. Visit www.blood.ca/ways-donate to learn more.