Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplant or renal transplant is the process where a kidney is surgically removed from a donor and implanted into the patient. The patient may receive a kidney from a family member, a spouse or a close friend. They are known as living-related donors. The most compatible match is usually a sibling, as their genetic make-up may closely match. Living-donor renal transplants are further characterised as genetically related (living-related) or non-related (living-unrelated) transplants, depending on whether a biological relationship exists between the donor and recipient.

In addition, the patient can also receive a kidney from a recently deceased person, known as a cadaveric donor or deceased-donor. Transplant is by far the best means of treatment, as the “replacement kidney” can substitute almost fully the lost functions of the failed kidneys, and allow the patient to lead a normal life.


Kidney transplant would be the best treatment for End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). However, the waiting list for kidney transplant is long. To date, there are more than 250 individuals on the waiting list for cadaver renal transplant.

The average waiting time for renal transplant is 9 years. There are patients who are not suitable or eligible for transplant because of their medical conditions and age. Hence, they will need to remain on dialysis.

You may wish to contact the National Organ Transplant Unit in Singapore at (65) 6321 4390 or email to The Unit may be able to assist you with any further information you may need on transplant in Singapore. For more information on organ transplant, please log on to

Please note that under Singapore Law, the selling and buying of organs are illegal.

Kidney Transplant

A: Kidney transplant or renal transplant is the process where a kidney is surgically removed from a donor and implanted into a patient with end-stage renal disease.

A: Dialysis cannot replace 100% function of our real kidneys. Our kidneys work continuously 24 hours, 7 days a week to keep our body composition normal whereas dialysis is intermittent although it can sustain life. The quality of life of a dialysis patient, to a certain extent, is constrained by the illness. Ideally, kidney transplant is the best treatment as the transplanted kidney can substitute almost fully the lost functions of the failed kidneys.

A: The average waiting time for renal transplant is 9 years

A: It is when a recipient (whose name has been on the National Transplant List) receives a kidney from a deceased donor.

A: Living transplant is when one’s living relatives or close friends whose kidneys are compatible donate to the recipient without any money exchanging hands.
For more information on Living Organ Donation, please visit MOH website.

A: NKF’s “Kidney Live Donor Support Fund” help kidney donors in covering their pre-transplant screening and evaluation costs, post-operation costs, loss of income, and insurance premiums. For more information, please refer to the Kidney Live Support Donor Fund.

Promoting Kidney Transplant

Since the early 1970s, NKF has been promoting kidney transplant as it realised then that dialysis was only an alternative treatment for kidney failure.

As part of the NKF’s efforts to increase kidney donation, it obtained kidneys from overseas. In May 1983, with the help of Singapore Airlines, it flew in a kidney from America to be transplanted on a patient. The kidney transplant created two local medical firsts. It was the first kidney donated from overseas and the operation was the first time local doctors had transplanted one kept in cold storage for nearly 48 hours.

Under the Medical Therapy, Education and Research Act or opting-in scheme, there were only about 25,000 opt-ins over 14 years. So, in 1986, the NKF supported the setting up of a presumed consent or opting-out law on kidney donation initiated by the Ministry of Health. The NKF rallied the support of Singaporeans for the passage of the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA). The Act presumes that non-Muslims, between the ages of 21 and 60, have pledged their kidneys upon accidental death, unless they have opted out. With public support, the Act was passed in 1987, making Singapore the first Commonwealth country to adopt such legislation. For more information on HOTA, For more information on HOTA, please visit

The NKF then conducted its first kidney donation campaign, launched by the then Minister for Health, Mr Chua Sian Chin on 1 June 1973. The campaign was to dispel some of the fears and misconceptions of people about donating organs.

As part of the campaign, the NKF distributed pamphlets on kidney transplant and the need for donors to households in Singapore together with their Public Utilities Board bills. Although only 2,000 people pledged their kidneys, it was a start to creating awareness about the plight of kidney failure sufferers in Singapore.

The NKF was supportive of a legislation supporting kidney transplant – the new Medical Therapy, Education and Research Act, which was passed on 1 June 1972. With this act, the wishes of those above the age of 18 who had pledged their organs could not be overridden by surviving relatives.