When looking for a living donor, the most critical step is getting your story out there. Unfortunately, this is often the most difficult step. Both addressing friends, family as well as the general public can be an intimidating process and many people do not feel comfortable having this conversation with those in their inner circle or with the public.

The good news is that it gets easier! It has been the experience of American Transplant Foundation staff that while this is the most intimidating step in the process, all it takes is a little practice to get comfortable enough to talk about your situation and your need for a living donor. It is important to note that whether speaking to someone in your inner circle or a stranger/acquaintance it is vital to make your story and your need as clear and concise as possible. The best way to do this is to create your elevator speech.

An elevator speech is a short dialogue that defines your need and creates interest in your story. The term “elevator” refers to being able to get your story across in a very short time, as in a short elevator ride. The ultimate goal is to get someone emotionally engaged in your story, have a conversation about your situation, and get them interested in learning more. This speech will not always lead to these things happening- but the more you try, the better your chances.

Below are methods to creating an effective elevator speech:

  • Choose 2-3 key points that define your need and create a hook for your story. Include something personal that will make people feel emotionally engaged.
  • Create your speech in such a way that you regularly speak. This will make it more natural and easier to find the appropriate words.
  • Practice your speech until you have it memorized. This will also help you feel more comfortable when the opportunity arises to share your story.
  • Be prepared to give them information on where to learn more about transplantation. The American Transplant Foundation’s “About Living Donation” page is a great resource.
  • It is important to be open and honest with your potential living donor as this a big decision. They may want to take some time to reflect and/or discuss it with their friends and family.

Sample Elevator Speech


Have you ever heard of ESRD? It stands for end-stage renal disease, which is kidney failure- something that I face every day.  I am a mother of three children who keep me extremely busy, but unfortunately caring for them has become increasingly difficult since I’ve been on dialysis.  A dialysis machine does the work that my kidneys should do- but it means that I must be attached to the machine for three to four hours at a time, three times per week and it leaves me feeling nauseous and fatigued and with little time to spend with my children.

I’m on the kidney transplant waitlist but it is likely that I will be waiting for at least five years- and there is no guarantee that a matching donor organ will ever become available.  Dialysis is keeping me alive for now but it isn’t a long-term solution- I need a kidney transplant to be able to go back to a normal life and raise my children like other moms get to do.  My best chance at survival is finding a living donor.  Living kidney donation is becoming increasingly common and the long-term risks to the donor are minimal.  Do you know anything about living donation?