The National Kidney Foundation said it has expanded its peer mentoring program, NKF Peers, to include living kidney donors and those considering donation.

The program will now match donors and prospective donors with trained peer mentors who have already gone through the organ donation process, providing a place for altruistic individuals to discuss concerns and address questions.

“With input from living donors, kidney patients and professionals, we’ve identified a need for more direct support to people who are thinking about donating a kidney,” said Kelli Collins, Senior Director of Patient Services at the National Kidney Foundation. “Our peer mentors will share their experience and perspective with those who are considering living kidney donation or who are seeking support after donating a kidney.”

For over four years, NKF Peers has been matching kidney patient mentors with other patients who are in stage 4 kidney disease, on dialysis, or have received a transplant. The expansion of the program for living donation uses the same model. Participants are connected one-to-one with a peer mentor through a toll-free phone system that protects their private number and avoids long distance charges.

NKF Peers for living donation was developed in collaboration with living donors and professional Living Donor Advocates. The training process for peer mentors is conducted through a series of conference calls where a variety of topics are presented and discussed, including: confidentiality, empathy, active listening, and starting, maintaining and ending a peer relationship. NKF vets potential mentors by individual assessment, group training and written assessment.

“Most importantly, our trained peer mentors have already gone through the process of living organ donation, which makes them uniquely qualified to speak with others who have donated a kidney, and those considering living donation,” said Collins.