Medical IDs for Living Organ Donors

Tips for choosing an organ donor medical alert bracelet or necklace. 

medical ids for living organ donors

This guide is written by American Medical ID with input from the Living Donors Online community. Special thanks to the contributors to this guide, including Fr. Pat Sullivan, Sherri Bauman, and Julia Metzler.

Living organ donors are the inspiration of transplantation, leading to earlier transplants and better recipient survival rates1. In the US, nearly 6,000 living donations take place each year2.

However, a living organ donor may face possible long-term health risks. For example, a kidney donor can be at risk for hypertension, increased levels of protein in the urine, hernia, bloating in the abdominal area, nausea, and in more serious cases, impairment of the remaining kidney3.

Medical IDs are Proven to Alert First Responders of Living Organ Donation

Healthcare organizations around the world recommend medical IDs for people living with one or more medical conditions4, including those who have successfully completed a living organ donation. A medical ID is a piece of jewelry such as a bracelet or necklace that contains a person’s medical information.

Medical IDs can help raise awareness of living organ donation and help donors to live life fully with peace of mind.

  • In an emergency, medical IDs can alert responders and other health professionals about a medical condition. 95% of responders check for a medical ID around the neck and/or wrist4.
  • If a living organ donor becomes unconscious and unable to communicate, medical IDs can help relay their unique medical and safety needs.
  • Wearing a medical ID helps avoid misdiagnosis of symptoms associated with organ donation and allow healthcare providers to give donors timely and precise treatment.
  • Wearing an ID can help avoid unwanted drug interactions. For kidney donors this may include use of NSAIDS, nephrotoxic medications, or contrast dyes for imaging.

“I'm a kidney donor who has a medical alert bracelet from the National Kidney Foundation. It is important that kidney donors wear one because some dyes used in scans can be hard for one kidney to filter out, and thus can damage or destroy the kidney.” – Fr. Pat Sullivan, Living Organ Donor

What to Engrave on a Living Organ Donor Medical ID

Living organ donations are usually a kidney or a portion of a liver. Occasionally, donation can also include a lobe of a lung5. No two donors are the same which is why a custom engraved medical ID is vital. A medical alert bracelet or necklace for living organ donors can be customized to their unique medical information.

A living organ donor medical alert bracelet or necklace must contain the following:

1. Name

A medical ID should at least contain the wearer’s first name. This helps provide responders a quick way to address the patient and check for their responsiveness.

2. Medical information pertaining to a living organ donation

Living kidney donors – information that a person was a kidney donor and thus only has one kidney and on which side. For example, this could be engraved as: “ONE KIDNEY- LEFT”, “RIGHT KIDNEY DONATED”, or “LEFT KIDNEY DONOR”.

Living liver donors – information that a liver donor had a part of their liver removed. This can be engraved as: “HEPATECTOMY”, “DONOR HEPATECTOMY”, “LIVER DONOR”, and “LIVER DONATION”.

Living lung donors – information that a person was a lung donor, underwent lobectomy and which side. This could be engraved as “LUNG LOBECTOMY-LEFT”, “DONOR LUNG LOBECTOMY-LEFT”, or “LUNG DONOR”.

TIP for organ donors: If you're unsure on what to engrave, consult your doctor or physician on the most urgent medical information to include on your medical ID.

3. Chronic medical conditions, food & drug allergies

If applicable, medical IDs should include other medical conditions that may cause a medical emergency. Food or drug allergies such as an allergy to nuts, penicillin, latex, etc. should also be engraved on a medical ID.  This can be simply engraved as: “NO NUTS/LATEX” or “ALGY: NUT & PCN.”

TIP for organ donors: Living with multiple conditions or allergies? Choose a medical ID that can be engraved on the front & back with unlimited engraving. You may also use common abbreviations to make the most of the space allowed.

4. Medications

Medications that are taken regularly which may or may not be related to a living organ donation should be included, especially if they are crucial to the donor’s well-being or have known risks, side effects, and dangerous interactions.

5. In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact

Living organ donors should consider listing at least one emergency contact phone number. It is recommended to be an immediate family member or loved one but in some cases could also be their doctor.

TIP for organ donors: Do you have more than one emergency contact? Carry a medical ID card where you can include more information and engrave SEE WALLET CARD to alert medical personnel.

Sample Medical ID Engraving for Living Organ Donors

Rick Jones
CATHY 800.363.5985
Joy Meachum
DR 800.363.5985
Michael Reeves
MOM 800.363.5985

Medical IDs Improve the Lives of Living Donors

A medical ID is a simple tool that can help keep living organ donors safe and give them everyday peace of mind. People that decide to become a donor should understand the risk of not wearing one. Medical IDs have gone a long way from being unattractive or uncomfortable to wear. There’s also not the stigma with them that there once was. New styles of medical alert jewelry offer flexibility in design, comfort and durability that can suit different lifestyles.

Medical IDs can also help start positive conversations on living organ donation. For example, “how do I become a living donor?” is a frequently asked question. Medical IDs can help living donors share relevant information, concerns, and needs with their community.

Gift Idea for Living Organ Donors

If you are an organ recipient, custom engraved medical IDs might be a simple yet useful gift to consider for your living organ donor. Gift cards are the perfect solution when you are unsure about which medical ID to buy for someone or are uncertain about the engraving they will need. American Medical ID gift cards are available starting at $25.


Related community forum discussions:
1. Transplant Gifts -
2. Medical Alert Bracelets -