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What to Expect When Donating a Kidney

The Queen’s Medical Center Transplant Center’s skilled team performs a kidney removal (nephrectomy) using a minimally invasive laparoscopic technique. This procedure offers less pain, smaller scars, a shorter hospital stay, and faster recovery than with traditional open surgery.

Leaving the hospital after donating a kidney

After the living donor is discharged from the hospital, they will have scheduled follow-up appointments at regular intervals after donation, including:

  • 2 weeks
  • 6 months
  • 1 year
  • 2 years

The donor will meet with the transplant coordinator and their surgeon to monitor their kidney function and blood pressure. Donors will be given (or mailed) a lab order to be completed prior to their scheduled appointment. Lab work includes urinalysis and serum creatinine. These are tests that help determine the function of the donor’s kidney.

The Queen’s Transplant Center is required to submit follow-up information to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years post-donation on all living kidney donors.

It is recommended that donors monitor their blood pressure annually. A desirable blood pressure is less than 120/70. You may need treatment if your blood pressure is greater than 130/80.

Post-Surgical Care for Kidney Donors

Incision Care

  • Do not sit in a bath tub, hot tub, or go swimming until cleared by your surgeon (you may shower).
  • Allow water to run gently over your incision as you clean the incision area.
  • Avoid use of lotion or powder on or near the incision.
  • A dressing on the incision is not usually required and it may be open to air.
  • You may place a light gauze pad over the incision for comfort if your clothes tend to rub or irritate the incision.
  • Steri-strips (small pieces of tape covering your incision) will gradually fall off on their own. You may trim the edges if they loosen and leave the remainder of the strip in place.

Activity

  • Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for six weeks.
  • Avoid strenuous activities that may increase abdominal pressure, especially sit-ups, for six weeks.
  • Increase activity as tolerated. Walking is a great exercise. Walking will help your general recovery by strengthening your muscles, keeping your blood circulating to prevent blood clots, and helping your lungs to remain clear.
  • Rest is just as important as exercise. So pace yourself and be careful not to overdo it.

Diet

  • Unless told differently, eat a balanced diet with whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables can help with the constipation caused by pain medications.
  • Stay well hydrated. Drink at least 2 liters (8 glasses) of fluid per day and more if you sweat.
  • Avoid high protein diets such as the “Atkin’s Diet,” and high protein drinks. High protein diets can overwork and damage your kidney.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats.
  • If you have nutrition-related questions or would like to meet with a dietitian, please call the Queen’s Transplant Center at (808) 691-8897

Please avoid use of the following non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) because they can harm your kidney:

Over the Counter NSAID Medications to Avoid

Generic Name

Brand Name

Ibuprofen

Advil or Motrin

Naproxen

Aleve

Aspirin

Excedrin or Bayer

Ketoprofen

Orudis KT

 

Prescription NSAID Medications to Avoid

Generic Name

Brand Name

Celecoxib

Celebrex

Etodolac

Lodine

Indomethacin

Indocin

Ketorolac

Toradol

Maloxicam

Mobic

Nabumetone

Relafen

Sulindac

Clinoril

Oxaprozin

Daypro

After your donor surgery, please tell your primary care physician, as well as other doctors taking care of you, that you are a kidney donor. This will help them avoid prescribing medications that may harm your kidney.

If you are admitted to the hospital in the future, it is important that you let the doctors taking care of you know that you only have one kidney. This way, they can avoid giving you medications that may potentially harmful.

Drugs physicians and other medical professionals should avoid for kidney donors are commonly called “nephrotoxins,” and include:

  • NSAIDS
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Some chemotherapy medications
  • Intravenous contrast dye

If you need more information about your medicine and its use, check with your doctor, transplant nurse, or pharmacist.

When to seek medical attention after organ donation surgery

At the Queen’s Transplant Center, we have a team ready to discuss potential issues. Call and report symptoms early to avoid a trip to the emergency room or a stay in the hospital.

Call the Queen’s Transplant Center if you have any of the following:

  • Increased bleeding at the incision site
  • Unusual redness, oozing, or swelling along the incision
  • Incision is pulling apart
  • Body temperature is greater than 100?F
  • Pain worsens without apparent reason, such as overexertion
  • Increased blood in your urine
  • Chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Change in bowel habits, i.e., persistent diarrhea or prolonged constipation