Most donors will go on to live for another 50 or 60 years, so it is important that they commit to keeping their remaining kidney healthy.
After donating, donors should eat healthy foods and avoid activities such as contact sports and excessive alcohol consumption.
Living donation surgery involves the same level of risk for the donor as any other major surgery. The majority of complications following surgery are not severe, but may cause a longer hospitalization.
Possible surgical complications can include pain, infection, blood loss, blood clots, allergic reactions to anesthesia, pneumonia, injury to surrounding tissue or other organs, and even death.
Some possible long-term risks of donating a kidney may include high blood pressure; large amount of protein in the urine; hernia; organ impairment or failure that leads to the need for dialysis or transplantation; and death.
It is important to discuss these risks with the transplant team, the transplant candidate, and your family before deciding whether to donate.
Please note that there has been no national systematic long-term data collected on the risks of becoming a living donor. Based upon the limited information currently available, overall risks are considered to be low.
Though it is immensely important to thoroughly consider the above risks, remember to also consider the positive aspects of living donation.
The kidney donation process consists of three steps: evaluation, surgery, and recovery.
The evaluation process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Donors will go through a series of medical tests, and can schedule those tests at their own preferred pace.
The surgery itself lasts for just a few hours.
During recovery, donors do not normally have to stay in the hospital as long as recipients. An average stay in the hospital is 3-7 days for kidney donation. The first day is for surgery and the rest for recovery. It is best to take a couple of days off of work before the surgery for travel and pre-surgery testing and preparations.
When a donor is released from the hospital, he or she will need 4-6 weeks for full recovery. During this time, it is best to remain healthy by eating nourishing foods and resting as much as possible.
A donor may be able to go back to work within a week or two of the surgery, but he or she must remember to take things slowly and allow rest and time for recovery.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions and advice for your recovery.
To learn more about the financial implications of being a donor please explore this useful toolkit:
In the past 60 years of kidney donation, there have been instances where some donors have lost their kidney function and require dialysis several years after donation. There is a priority system in place so that donors receive extra points for deceased donor kidney transplant when they are on the waiting list.
All the medical evaluation and screening completed ahead of the surgery is conducted with the goal of ruling out any donors that may encounter future kidney failure.