What to expect after donating a Kidney?

PDid you know that every year over 100,600 organ transplants are carried out globally? Out of this number, approximately 69,400 of them are kidney transplants and 46% from living donors.

According to this data, kidney transplants are actually the most common organ transplants. It is, therefore, important to know what you would expect after the procedure if you are considering donating your kidney. All potential kidney donors have to go through a thorough evaluation before being cleared to donate their kidney – this applies to all organ donors.

After donating a kidney you can live a normal life. However, it is crucial to stay healthy and protect the kidney you remain with.

These are some of the things to do to ensure your health is at its best and that your remaining kidney is protected.

  • Once you have donated your kidney, your doctor will encourage you to have good long-term medical follow up including a urine test, blood pressure test and a blood test to check kidney function. This should be done annually.
  • Physical exercise is as important for you as for people with both kidneys but unlike them, you need to protect your kidney from injury. Doctors recommend avoiding contact sports like wrestling, soccer, hockey and boxing, among others, that put you at risk of injuring your kidney. You can also lessen the risk of sports injuries by wearing protective gear like padded vests under clothing during sports.
  • The process of donation is usually so time-consuming that donors do not, in most cases, have the time to process what they are feeling. This can lead to mixed feelings from joy to depression as well as anxiety especially due to concerns about the donor’s recovery and the recipient’s outcome. Feelings of depression can occur even when the donor and recipient are doing well.
  • If you are struggling with emotional issues after donating your kidney:

1. Let your transplant team know how you are feeling both emotionally and physically,

2. Seek professional counselling,

3. Ensure you talk to the hospital’s transplant social worker for advice, or

4. Talk to other living donors who may be experiencing the same feelings.

  • Kidney donors do not necessarily have to follow a special diet. However, if you have a kidney transplant due to kidney disease or kidney failure, you may have restrictions, so talking to your healthcare provider or a registered dietician is necessary. 

Long-term risks of donation

Although kidney donors can live normal healthy lives, they can be at a higher risk of developing conditions like proteinuria, reduced kidney function and high blood pressure. Therefore, if you have donated your kidney, you should discuss your risks with your transplant team to know what to do to reduce your chance of developing such risks.

Whether you have donated your kidney or are considering doing so, this information is important to you or anyone you know who may be considering donating their kidney or other organ like the liver. Share this article with your family and friends.

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