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Over 30 kidney donors and advocates to celebrate World Kidney Day from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

January 26, 2023, Richmond, VA


Living organ donors and donation advocates will climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness about the need for organ donation and to show what is possible for those who choose to become living donors. The group is sponsored by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the mission-driven nonprofit that powers the U.S. organ donation and transplantation system. Wearing UNOS gear, the team will plant a UNOS flag at the mountain’s summit to commemorate the work of the organization and the community of patients, physicians, hospitals, OPOs, advocates and professionals it represents, all of whom works tirelessly to coordinate lifesaving organ transplants nationwide.

Mt. Kilimanjaro: Approaching base camp, March, 2022. Photo credit: Bobby McLaughlin

Mt. Kilimanjaro: Approaching base camp, March, 2022. Photo credit: Bobby McLaughlin


A group of more than 30 organ donors and advocates are in training across the United States for the upcoming climb. All participants have a unique understanding of the need for more living donors and for more people to view donation as a fundamental human responsibility. The group includes a transplant surgeon, transplant nurses, a kidney recipient, living kidney donors, two-time living donors (having donated both a kidney and a portion of their livers), a bone and tissue recipient, and multiple other organ donation advocates who are dedicated to promoting the gift of life.


The climb will begin on March 3. The group is scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on World Kidney Day, March 9, 2023. World Kidney Day is a global campaign that brings awareness related to kidney wellbeing, promoting a goal of “Kidney Health for All.”


According to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 100,000 people across the U.S. are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Over 89,000 of them are waiting for a kidney transplant and more than 5,000 new patients are added to this list every month. Despite the record-breaking 42,800+ organ transplants that took place in 2022, during which the U.S. also performed its 1 millionth organ transplant, there are many patients still in need and more donors are needed. Roughly 13 people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant. Just one person can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and improve the lives of as many as 75 through tissue donation.


Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The climbers are from all across the United States.


A videographer will accompany the group to document the event. The potential for live feed during the climb and at the summit is being explored.

About Kidney Donor Awareness Corporation

Kidney Donor Awareness Corporation is a 501c3 non-profit formed with the express objective to save lives by promoting awareness about the life saving gift of living kidney and liver donation. More than 100,000 people are on the transplant waiting list, and 13 people die each day waiting for a life-saving gift. We hope to change those numbers, one story, one life at a time. Our organizers and participants are living donation advocates, the majority of whom have already given a kidney or part of their liver. We hope by sharing our stories and bringing awareness to the need for donors (while demonstrating what is possible after donation) that others might be inspired to consider living donation. Our primary mechanism for spreading this message is our Mount Kilimanjaro climb and the media coverage it generates, whether it be TV, print, social media or word of mouth. Each donor has a different journey to donation, but one thread remains constant throughout: They heard a story and felt compelled to help.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) serves as the national donation and transplant system, under contract with the federal government.

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