What is a kidney donation?

A person can live with one healthy kidney. When both kidneys fail, the person must have dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. A donated kidney can come from a living or deceased donor. The donated kidney is surgically implanted into the patient with kidney failure. The living donor can live a healthy life with his or her remaining kidney.

How does a kidney donation work?

When the kidney is donated, it is transplanted into the body of a patient without a functioning kidney. Surgery is required to obtain the kidney from a living or deceased donor. The recipient needs surgery to have the donated kidney implanted. The patient will need to take medications in order to keep the donated kidney from being rejected by the body.

Is there a difference between a donated kidney from a living donor as opposed to a deceased donor?

A kidney from a living donor has advantages. A kidney from a family member is more likely to be a better genetic match. This reduces the chance of rejection. A kidney from a living donor usually works more quickly after the surgery. This is because it is out of the body for less time. A living donor can be tested before the procedure to find a better genetic match with a recipient.

Who can donate a kidney?

A kidney can be donated by anyone with normal functioning kidneys and good overall health. A living donor is often a family member, but it can also be an unrelated donor. With better medications, a genetic link is not a requirement for a transplant.

What is the procedure for donating a kidney?

A donor must undergo tests to determine how good of a match the donated kidney will be. Surgery to remove a kidney from a living donor can either be laparoscopic or open surgery. The determination will be made based on an examination of the donor. Anatomical issues or previous surgeries may lead the surgeon to use open surgery. Often, the recipient and donor are in operating rooms near each other. They will go to the recovery room following their respective surgeries.

What is the recovery like after a kidney donation?

The donor will usually stay in the hospital for a few days. Heavy lifting should be avoided for six weeks after the surgery. Pain, tenderness, and itching may occur. The donor should be able to resume his or her normal diet following the surgery. Pregnancy should be avoided for at least 1 year after surgery.

What are some risks of a kidney donation?

Rejection can occur despite the fact that success rates for kidney transplant continue to improve. Also, it is possible for the donated kidney to be lost due to surgical complications. Another risk is that the disease that caused the original kidney failure could also cause the donated kidney to fail.

Surgical risks include:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Kidney damage
  • Blood clots
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsed lung
  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Death

Long-term risks for a donor include:

  • Lower kidney function
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine

How does donating a kidney affect a person in the long run?

It is possible to live a normal life with only one kidney. It is important to have regular medical appointments with one’s primary doctor. General health should be monitored as well as the health of the remaining kidney. Donating a kidney should not affect life expectancy. Studies have shown that 80%-97% of donors would have made the same decision to donate again.

What happens if the donor’s remaining kidney fails?

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has a policy to give living donors priority on the waiting list for a transplant.

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