Living Donor Center

The Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center and its Living Donor Center staff are determined to help all patients whose lives depend on transplantation find a living kidney donor. Living donors provide patients with the best possible chances of survival, and our goal is to get you transplanted as quickly as possible.

Living donors can be categorized as:
  • Direct donors – a donor who directly gives to an acquaintance, friend or relative
  • Benevolent donors – a donor who initiates a transplant chain that may involve several patients besides an intended recipient. Such a donor initially could have a compatible, intended recipient but volunteers to swap to increase the number of patients who get transplanted based on that donation
  • Altruistic, or good Samaritan, donors – someone who volunteers to donate to anyone who is a match and usually starts a donor swap or chain

Always Patient-Focused

Our doctors, specialists and staff have decades of experience and understand how arduous the steps from diagnosis to transplantation can be for patients and donors. We recognize the complexity and uniqueness of each patient’s and donor’s path, and are meticulous in our efforts to prepare everyone for transplantation.

The staff is committed to the safety and health of all donors by thoroughly screening everyone to ensure they live a healthy life after donation. Additionally, our surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery to remove donor kidneys, which speeds recovery and leaves little scarring. 

Diane's Story

Diane Ikonomidis saved a stranger’s life by donating a kidney. Now she wants others to understand how meaningful kidney donation can be to someone whose life depends on a transplant. “If you could do that, why wouldn’t you?” she asks.

Finding a Living Donor

Patients can wait several years for a kidney transplant. The National Kidney Foundation estimates 12 people who are waiting for a kidney die every day. 

Our experts believe education is the foundation to assisting our patients in finding donors who could save their lives. We individually meet with kidney failure and dialysis patients to emphasize the importance of finding living donors.

Hundreds of people have donated kidneys to our patients who needed them. Our specialists conduct courses to motivate patients and develop effective strategies to make others aware of their transplantation needs.

Steps include:
  • Arming patients with kidney transplantation and donation information
  • Debunking donation myths
  • Encouraging patients to share their stories through social circles, including friends, church bulletins and social media platforms — especially Facebook
  • Teaching patients how to communicate with potential donors and ask for help.

Byron and Lori's Story

Lori Ledet decided to become a kidney donor after she discovered her father, Byron Taylor, needed a new one to survive. She even began the process before revealing her plan to him. Taylor says receiving his daughter’s kidney “is one of the greatest gifts I have ever had in my life.”

Making the Most of Your Donation

Considering the dozens of patients who need transplantation, our staff tries to maximize every donation and help as many people as possible. Our goal is to create donation chains by matching donors and recipients as closely as we can, which allows the transplanted kidney to last longer. 

“It’s not just a chance to help, but a chance to be a hero,” said A. Osama Gaber, MD, distinguished chair and director of the J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center. “By agreeing to donate not just one life, you can make five lives better.”

Houston Methodist uses an advanced computer software program to create the most compatible matches for all patients to improve their outcomes and survival rates. As a result, our transplant surgeons recently performed a multi-patient transplantation, or swap, involving six donors and six recipients.

“It’s not about the surgery,” Gaber said. “It’s about knowing how much it took to bring all these people together — how much work, effort, testing, anxiety, crying, traveling, people leaving their jobs. It’s this amazing thing that happens in a family or a group of people that allows this to happen for them. An altruistic or benevolent donor gives people a new life.”

Tina and Christy's Story

Tina Huerta required dialysis three times a week, every week, for six years before she finally qualified for a kidney transplant. But she needed a donor. Her friend Christy Gilliam donated a kidney to free Huerta from dialysis and reclaim her life.

If you would like to understand more about living donation, please visit our frequently asked questions page for transplants, Donate Life Texas or LifeGift Organ Donation Center. You can also learn more about what to expect before and after donating an organ as well as register to become a living donor.


Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center
6445 Main Street
Outpatient Center, 26th Floor 
Houston, TX 77030
Scheduling: 713.441.5451