Getting started

If you are a kidney patient considering transplant therapy, you need to start looking for a donor now. Below are four steps to get started on your donor search.

If you live in the Seattle area and would like to meet with me to develop a donor search plan, send me an email at gtaniwaki77(at) I was a nondirected donor at University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) and am most familiar with their transplant program, but have some familiarity with the programs at the other local hospitals (Swedish Medical and Virginia Mason) as well.


1. Develop your 30 second story

Whenever someone asks you how you are, tell them (not yet posted)

Amazing thing happen if you just speak up (5/2010)
A real American story (12/2010)


2. Appoint a kidney matchmaker

Find a person who is not a potential donor who can help you with your search (not yet posted)


3. Use a daily ritual

Develop a set of daily habits to help keep you focused on your search (not yet posted)


4. Don’t stop looking

Until your transplant is completed, keep searching for potential donors (not yet posted)

Publicity ideas

Below are a dozen ideas on how to publicize your search to find a donor using traditional media, social media, and news stories. These are just starting points. You may have other ideas. Drop me an email to share your ideas.

The following methods are listed in order of likelihood of success when focused effort is used (+++=highest to +=lowest), cost per impression ($=lowest to $$$=highest), and by personal effort required (E=lowest to EEE=highest).


Distribute calling cards

Print a set of business cards with details on how to get tested as a donor. Hand them out to everyone you meet (11/2013)

Success rate = +++, Cost = $$, Effort = EEE


Send letters and emails

Craft a letter or email campaign to your friends, family, coworkers, and everyone else you know (11/2011)

Success rate = +++, Cost = $, Effort = E to EEE


Engage social media

Spread your story using a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a blog, and a personal website (1/2013)

Success rate = ++, Cost = $, Effort = EEE


Contact the news media

Get a local newspaper, radio, or TV station interested in organ donation and tell your story (5/2013)

Success rate = ++, Cost = $, Effort = EEE

Submit a letter to the editor (7/2013)


Host an event

Host a get together of close friends and family to discuss your situation (not yet posted)

Success rate = ++, Cost = $$ to $$$, Effort = EEE


Post an ad on Craigslist

Compose a classified ad and post it on Craigslist (8/2011)

Success rate = +, Cost = $, Effort = E


Post flyers on message boards

Get permission to post a notice at work, church, and local venues (11/2013)

Success rate = +, Cost = $, Effort = EE


Yard signs

Post a sign on a busy street (9/2019)

Success rate = +, Cost = $ to $$, Effort = EE


Vehicle signs

Post a sign on the side or back of your car or truck (not yet posted)

Success rate = +, Cost =$ to $$, Effort = EE


Post a video on YouTube

Create a compelling video and post it on YouTube (1/2013)

Success rate = +, Cost =$ to $$$, Effort = E to EEE


Rent a billboard

A billboard will attract attention from anyone walking or driving by (7/2019)

Success rate = +, Cost = $$ to $$$, Effort = EE


Join Matching Donor is a fee-based matching service for kidney patients searching for a donor (9/2009)

Success rate = +, Cost = $$$, Effort = E

Related information

Technical information and information about being a donor.


About kidney exchanges

Glamour magazine featured kidney exchanges in its March 2010 issue (2/2010)


Many patients never look for live donor

Some thoughts about why many patients never consider the live donor option and never begin a search (12/2009)


Kidney transplant surgery step-by-step

University of Washington Medical Center live-tweeted a kidney transplant (1/2014)


Kidney donor guide

I was a nondirected kidney donor in 2010 and documented my journey (11/2007)

Resources to develop a donor search plan

Below is a list of resources that patients can use to develop their donor search plan. Most of these organizations also have a Facebook presence.


Living Kidney Donors Network

Harvey Mysel conducts webinars for patients who want to develop a Kidney Kampaign, see especially the LKDN Resource Guide, on pages 30-33

LKDN on Facebook


Living Kidney Donor Search

Suzanne Kloss is a licensed social worker who provides advice and manages a website where patients can post their story

LKDS on Facebook


TransplantFirst Academy

Risa Simon is a speaker who promotes pre-emptive transplants. She is the author of Shift Your Fate, a book of advice on being a proactive kidney patient


Living Donors Online

LDO provides advice and support for potential donors and current living donors

LDO on Facebook (a closed group)


Explore Transplant

Amy Waterman provides kidney care specialists with training and resources to encourage patients to pursue transplant therapy

Explore Transplant on Facebook

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