Marion Reich successfully donated a kidney to a family friend ten years ago.

“We were a match, it’s starts with the blood type and if the blood type matches, even though she wasn’t a blood relative I was able to donate.”

However, Reich says the process from start to finish took a while, during that time her friend ended up having to go on dialysis while waiting.

“It was set up that when you completed one hurdle, then you were scheduled for the next and that time in between appointments is precious and valuable,” says Reich. “It can have an impact on the person receiving the kidney and may exclude their opportunity of a preemptive transplant.”

Improving the process for living kidney donations is exactly what a team of doctors from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University have been studying.

Currently the process to donate a living kidney takes an average of 10 months and sometimes longer.

“When someone is interested in donating a kidney to a loved one or a friend they contact our program and in truth they go through many hoops before they get to the point they are eligible to become a kidney donor.” Says Dr. Amit Garg, Lawson Scientist and Western Professor.

The study found out of pocket costs incurred by donors is one of the main barriers, but another is the time commitment.

The team is recommending more efficiencies for donors. One idea would be virtual appointments to take travel out of the equation.

“One of my colleagues in Hamilton is looking at a one day donor evaluation, so it’s kind of like a Marathon day,” says Dr. Garg. “You go in the morning and get as many tests done and see specialist and by the end of that you get a clear answer on whether you can be a donor or not.”

The ultimate goal is to make the process an easier one, to increase the living donor list, which will ultimately save more lives.

You can read the full study here.