I'm often asked by someone if they can donate a kidney. It's certainly not a simple yes/no answer. You need to be at least 18 years old and you'll have to be evaluated by a transplant hospital....of course, you have to be healthy enough to donate. Sometimes hospitals are overwhelmed when many friends and family members contact them to be evaluated only to find out that many are ruled out after being asked just a few medical history questions.
If you have a chronic illness, it is unlikely that you will be allowed to donate. A few of the health conditions that will usually preclude someone from donating are diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of cardiac or respiratory problems. Being overweight or obese, or a family history of kidney disease may also preclude you from being considered. However, there isn't a national standard used for evaluating donors, so you might be ruled out at one hospital, only to be accepted at another transplant hospital.
If you have a health condition that precludes you from donating, you can still be helpful by becoming an advocate for the person in need. You can let others know about your friend or family members need for a transplant and educate them about the process. Your advocating on their behave is very credible since you wanted to donate, but were ruled out for medical reasons.
Harvey Mysel is a kidney transplant recipient and Founder of the Living Kidney Donors Network, a nonprofit organization that offers Workshops and Get-Togethers to educate people in need of a kidney transplant about living kidney donation and helps prepare them to effectively communicate their need to family members and friends. The Living Kidney Donors Network website is: www.lkdn.org and Harvey could be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/harveymysel