• What to Expect as a Kidney Donor

    After meeting all requirements for kidney donation, you must agree to abide by our guidelines leading up to surgery. This is to ensure that you are in good condition for donating your kidney.

    If you’re a smoker, you’ll be asked to stop smoking. If you drink alcohol, even in moderation, you’ll be instructed to abstain until you have fully recovered from surgery and receive clearance from your surgeon. You also may need to stop taking certain medications.

    The Kidney Donor Surgical Procedure 

    Living kidney donor surgery is typically scheduled in the morning. You and the kidney recipient will be admitted into the hospital’s pre-op area two hours before surgery, where your family may accompany you. An IV will be placed, and your abdominal area may need to be shaved.

    When you’re taken into the operating room, your family will be asked to wait in the surgical waiting area, where the kidney donor coordinator will discuss a plan to keep them updated on the progress of your surgery.

    Our expert anesthesiologists will administer sedation through the IV to put you to sleep. Once you are asleep, they will insert a tube in your throat that will connect to a machine that helps you breathe (ventilator). They will also insert a tube (a Foley catheter) into your urethra to allow urine to drain during the surgery.

    We prefer a laparoscopic approach over the traditional open donor surgery because it’s a minimally invasive procedure. A laparoscopy consists of three small (¼-inch) incisions through which we insert a camera and other robotic tools to detach the kidney. Once detached, the kidney can be removed through a 3-inch incision below the waistline.   

    Hospital Discharge after Kidney Donation Surgery 

    Your total hospital stay will generally be two days. You’ll be able to walk within 24 hours following the kidney donation, but you won’t be discharged until you can take pain medication by mouth, you can urinate on your own, and you have completely recovered from the anesthesia. You will also need to demonstrate acceptable kidney function and be tolerating an oral diet.

    Kidney Donation Recovery Timeline 

    Here is what you can generally expect during your recovery as a kidney donor:

    • In 2-3 days: You’ll be discharged from hospital.
    • In 14 days: You'll be able to drive a car, after clearance from the transplant team.
    • In 6 weeks: You can participate in low-impact sports (but no swimming or hot tubs for 8 weeks). You can lift up to 20 pounds (such as a baby, groceries or a cat).
    • In 6 to 12 weeks: You may return to work and resume all of your normal activities.
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