Once testing is completed and an individual is accepted as a living kidney donor with a compatible recipient, a surgery date will be set. A team of experts in kidney donor care provide all aspects of care, before, during and after surgery.
Laparoscopic Kidney Donation Surgery
Living kidney donation, or nephrectomy, is a major surgery, but recent medical advancements make it possible to minimize the impact on the donor.
The surgery generally lasts two to three hours while the patient is asleep under general anesthesia. At Froedtert Hospital, all living kidney donation surgeries are laparoscopic, which means the kidney is removed using a few small incisions, the largest of which will be only about three inches long. With laparoscopic nephrectomy, patients have less visible scarring, shorter hospital stays and a more rapid return to normal activities.
Living kidney donors at Froedtert Hospital receive care on an inpatient unit dedicated to transplant patients. Patients can expect to be discharged from the hospital within a few days, and to be back to work and their regular routines in less than two weeks. Driving and lifting may be restricted for a few weeks after surgery.
Post-Surgery Care for Living Kidney Donors
After surgery, donors may experience common post-surgical discomfort, but complications following kidney donor surgery are rare. Long-term studies have shown that living with a single kidney has little impact on a donor’s health and does not change the donor’s life expectancy.
Once they are fully recovered, donors need to visit their primary care physicians regularly to monitor their blood pressure, kidney function and general health. A healthy lifestyle is advised, too, for optimal long-term quality of life. Transplant care coordinators at Froedtert Hospital provide support for donors for a minimum of two years and for as long as the donor desires.
For More Information
For more details about living kidney donations, see our list of resources and frequently asked questions.
Transplant and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Transplant patients may be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, and we have seen worse outcomes if they do get it. Due to the increased risk, we recommend transplant patients get the vaccine.