Kidney donation for people with metabolic syndrome

Why is metabolic syndrome a problem for kidney donation?

Metabolic syndrome is a problem for kidney donation because it can raise your chance of:

  • Type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease
  • Heart disease, which can lower kidney function
  • Kidney disease

Can I donate a kidney if I have metabolic syndrome?

Maybe. Each transplant center has its own rules about who can donate. If you have 3 or more conditions of metabolic syndrome, doctors may do more tests than usual.

To qualify as a kidney donor, you’ll first need to make changes to reverse it, such as following a healthy meal plan or being more active. You’ll need to keep up these healthy changes for the rest of your life.

You may not be able to donate if doctors think your metabolic syndrome gives you a high chance of:

  • Heart-related problems during or after surgery
  • Kidney disease


1. Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive Summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III).  JAMA 2001; 285, 19: 2486-2497.

2. Taler SJ, Messersmith EE, Leichtman AB, Gillespie BW, Kew CE, Stegall MD. Merion RM, Matas AJ, Ibrahim HN for the RELIVE Study Group. Demographic, Metabolic, and Blood Pressure Characteristics of Living Kidney Donors Spanning Five Decades. AJ Transplantation 2013; 13: 390–398. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2012.04321.x

3. UNOS donor evaluation policy accessed at

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is having 3 or more conditions that give you a higher chance of heart problems. The conditions include:

  • A lot of fat around your waist
  • High levels of fats in your blood (high cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

Your doctor will take measurements and do blood tests to know if you have metabolic syndrome.


Note: This information is the opinion of the Living Donor Community of Practice (LDCOP) of the American Society of Transplantation. The LDCOP is a group of health care professionals and researchers who specialize in living kidney donation. The LDCOP’s recommendations are meant to offer you helpful information, but you may find opinions from other groups or organizations that are helpful to you, too.

Last Updated: 
January 23, 2018