Becoming a live organ donor

Information about becoming an organ donor, what’s involved, and the financial assistance and compensation available.

Deciding to become a live organ donor is a big decision. To be able to donate an organ you will need to have medical tests and checks to make sure this type of surgery is suitable for you.

Key things to know about organ donation and becoming a donor are:

  • You don’t have to be a New Zealand citizen.
  • You may be able make a donation if you live overseas.
  • There is assistance for eligible donors including:
    • financial assistance for travel and accommodation
    • compensation for loss of earnings after surgery.

Your DHB’s donor liaison coordinator supports you through the whole donation process.

Who can I donate to?

You can donate a kidney to a member of your family, a friend or a person you don’t know. Donating to someone you know, like a family member or a friend, is called directed donation because you ‘direct’ that your kidney goes to a particular person.

Donating to someone you don’t know is called altruistic or non-directed donation. In this case, you cannot say who receives your kidney. The kidney will be given to the next best-matched patient on the kidney organ waiting list.

Directed live liver donation also occurs and usually involves a parent donating part of their liver to their child. Live liver donation is much less common than live kidney donation because of the higher risk of complications to the donor. For this reason, non-directed live liver donation is not supported in New Zealand. 

Getting started

1. Contact your DHB

To find out more about organ donation and if it’s right for you, contact your local DHB (district health board). If you’re interested in becoming a donor, your call will be transferred to your local DHB’s donor liaison coordinator. You can find the DHB for your area on the DHB webmap:

What to expect:

The donor liaison coordinator will be your first point of contact for:

  • answering any queries or concerns
  • arranging tests and checks
  • applying for compensation (filling out forms) if you are able to donate a kidney or a piece of your liver.

The donor liaison coordinator will also discuss with you:

  • any general laboratory or specialised tests required
  • the eligibility criteria that apply to your situation, and
  • whether financial help is available for:
    • travel and accommodation costs
    • loss of earnings while you recovery from surgery.

2. Registering for National Travel Assistance (NTA)

If you have to travel for specialised tests, you may be eligible for some financial help to meet your travel and accommodation costs.

You can either:

  • contact your local DHB’s NTA coordinator (look up DHB contact details on My DHB webmap), or
  • call the NTA coordinators contact centre (weekdays): freephone 0800 281 222 (press 2).
What to expect:

The NTA coordinator can answer any queries and help you complete the registration form and a claim form to apply for financial assistance:

The guidelines that NTA coordinators use are set out in the reimbursement protocol. You can read it online:

Find out more:

There's links to videos and booklets in the section: Guides and forms

These websites also provide useful information about live organ donation:  

3. Confirmation as a donor

Once all tests are completed, the donor liaison coordinator will let you know whether or not the donation surgery will be suitable for you.

If you can donate a kidney or piece of your liver, you:

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