PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Ascension Sacred Heart hospital is now accepting living donors for their kidney transplant program. The program will change the lives of patients who have been on the transplant list for years waiting for a kidney.

“People wait four, even to seven years for a kidney transplant and in the mean time they’re on dialysis, their health can worsen, so if they’re able to find a living donor then they’re able to get the transplant done a lot sooner,” said Dr. Wen Xie, a transplant surgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola.

Getting a kidney from a living donor can reduce the timeline of a transplant to only three to six months, and patients who receive kidneys from living donors also have a shorter recovery period.

“They last longer, as organs and grafts,” said Xie. “They start working right away, so people start feeling better right away, and get off dialysis right away if they’re on dialysis.”

Donors are matched with a specific recipient and can choose to donate to their loved ones or just volunteer.

“People who have donated think that it’s absolutely the most wonderful gift that they’ve given anybody in their life,” said Xie. “It’s something that you can carry with you forever.”

More information on how to donate a kidney to someone in need can be found here.