Things You Should Know About Donating A Kidney: Side Effects And Recovery
Thinking of donating a kidney to someone suffering from kidney failure? Great! Kidney donation does not change your life in a major way. Nor does it alter your lifespan. But for a person who has suffered kidney failure your kidney could be a gift of life that makes them feel alive again.
However, it is also important to know that the recovery time for a kidney donor could be a little stressful due to certain side effects of kidney donation like anxiety, depression, nausea etc. In this article, we will learn the truths about donating a kidney, kidney donation scar and recovery period.
Who Can Donate A Kidney?
Healthy people who wish to help a person with kidney disease shall volunteer to donate a kidney. The process of removing a healthy kidney from one’s body is termed donor nephrectomy. People who are eligible to donate their kidney come under the following categories:
- A living, related donor: relative/family members
- A living, unrelated donor: Spouse or friend
- Non-altruistic intrinsic donor: A person whose kidney is compatible to the recipient’s
- A deceased person who has consented to donate their organs before their death
Transplanting with the help of a living, related or unrelated donor is usually the best way to proceed with transplant surgery because a living donor’s kidneys last longer. A deceased donor kidney is transplanted from a person who has consented to donate their organs after their death. Their family members can also make this decision.
Kidney Donation Scar:
The kidney donation scar that you could get after the procedure depends on the method of surgical procedure. If keyhole surgery was performed on you, you might have 2-4 tiny keyhole wounds about 1cm in size. Some surgical techniques can cause larger scars. Open surgical technique is followed if any complication arises during the procedure. This procedure leads to a larger scar at the side of the tummy and could take longer to heal.
Importance Of Donating A Kidney:
Many people with one kidney live a life similar to those with both well-functioning kidneys. It does not put you at risk of getting kidney disease. Women donating a kidney can still get pregnant and have a safe delivery.
Kidney transplant surgery could be a ray of hope for kidney failure patients on the verge of dialysis treatment. Kidney transplantation from the living donor has its own advantages. By donating a kidney, you improve another person’s chances of survival.
Points To Consider Before Kidney Donation:
Though kidney transplant is a life-saving procedure and it is the greatest deed of all, live kidney donation is a complicated decision. You need to consider several factors if you have decided to donate your kidney. Some basic questions you need to ask yourself are:
- How will your family members get affected by this process and your recovery?
- How will your donation affect your relationship with the recipient?
- How will you feel if you are considered ineligible for donation?
- How will this affect your work responsibilities?
- Who will provide support to you during this process?
The primary step you need to consider is gathering all the information you need regarding organ donation. You shall donate your kidney only if you really want to, and only you should have the final say in this. Sometimes talking to someone who has experienced the same could be beneficial to make an informed decision.
Eligibility For Kidney Donation:
Organ donation is a voluntary and very personal decision that not everyone will be comfortable with. In order to be eligible for donation, you should be above 18 years of age, healthy and free from medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, etc.
Medical Evaluation Tests Before Donating A Kidney:
Before you donate a kidney, you need to undergo a complete medical check-up. The medical tests involved to consider you eligible could take around 2 months depending on the health status of you and the person receiving your kidney. Following are the list of tests performed to evaluate your compatibility with the recipient’s kidney:
- Blood typing
- HLA matching
- 24-hour urine testing
- Blood tests
- Chest X-ray and ECG
- CT scan
- Renal ultrasound
- X-ray to evaluate kidneys
- Colon test
- PAP smear
After your evaluation tests, you would need to sign a consent form acknowledging that you have been provided with sufficient information. You will meet with the donor team to discuss the results of your evaluation and undergo an approval process to schedule the surgery. If the medical team refuses to go ahead with the transplant, they will inform you the reason why it is not safe to proceed with your surgery.
What Are The Side Effects Of Donating A Kidney?
Not all kidney donors undergo the same after-effects of kidney transplants. The side effects of donating a kidney vary according to different individuals. The healthcare team will be available to help you with this process.
1. Potential Surgical Risks:
- Wound infection
- Blood clot formation
- Nerve injury
- Pain and tiredness
- Possibility of 25-35% decrease in kidney function
- Bloating, nausea and bowel obstruction
- High blood pressure
- Protein in urine
- Fever and urinary pain
- Allergic reaction to anaesthesia
2. Psychological Risks:
- Body image problems
- Depression or anxiety after surgery
- Emotional distress or grief if the recipient experiences any problem or dies
- Lifestyle changes after donation
3. Recovery Time For A Kidney Donor:
You may need to stay in the hospital for two to three days for initial recovery from your kidney donation scars. You will be prescribed painkiller medications on discharge. You could also be prescribed with stool softener if you experience constipation.
The recovery time for a kidney donor ranges between 4 to 12 weeks. People working on desk jobs can return to work sooner than those doing physical labour for a living. Recovery time also relies on individual capacity. Make sure that you ask your healthcare team to provide a rough estimated time for recovery.
After getting discharged from the hospital, as your kidney donation scars begin to heal, you may experience irritation, pain, itching and tenderness in the operated area. Do not lift heavy objects for six weeks following surgery. You will be started with a liquid diet immediately after surgery, and you shall resume your original diet once you reach home.
Important Things To Keep In Mind:
A single healthy kidney can perform much better functions than two damaged kidneys. If you are above the age 18 and have healthy kidneys, you can consider donating one of yours to a kidney failure patient. By doing so, you are enhancing their quality of life, delaying their need to undergo dialysis treatment.