The Side Effects of Becoming a Living Kidney Donor

doctor explaining kidney donation to donor


Living with PKD can be devastating, but with the possibility of living organ donation, the prospects of kidney disease patients go from bleak to boundless. Over 100,000 kidney disease patients are waiting on transplant lists across the nation, with less than 20,000 transplants being performed annually. The need for more donors persists and the opportunities to donate increases. From learning how to donate your car to learning how to donate a kidney, there is a lot you can do to help fight polycystic kidney disease.

If you are considering living donor donation, here are a few import facts to know.

  • If you are considering becoming a living kidney donor, discuss the option with your primary care provider first. They will be able to tell you if it is possible with your current health status.
  • Familiarize yourself with the risks inherent to this medical procedure.
  • Take time to consider the emotional impact of the decision. Giving up an organ, even for the best of reasons can be emotionally taxing. Be certain that this is the decision you want to make.
  • Prepare yourself physically by getting enough exercise and eating a healthy diet. Your overall health will impact your organs and your ability to heal from major surgery.
  • The screening process for living organ donation is extensive, it’s possible you might uncover health issues you were unaware of previously. Be prepared for surprises.
  • Talk to your insurance provider. Organ donation surgery is not covered by many insurance providers. Be certain that you are in a financial situation to cover the cost.
  • Discuss your organ donation plan with your employer. Elective surgery may not be viewed as favorably as an emergency. Be certain that you know your employer’s policy.
  • If you are a spiritual person, consider discussion your choice with your spiritual adviser. The decision to donate is an important life event and having someone to discuss it with can help you navigate the emotional impact.
  • The organ recipient’s insurance or Medicare will typically pay for the evaluation, donation surgery, and post-operative care. However, they do not cover lost wages, travel expenses, any unrelated health issues that occur during the donation process, and some follow-up expenses. Be certain that you have funds available to cover this.
  • Some living donors have reported that they have experienced problems with their health insurance after donating an organ. Be certain to discuss your plans with your current provider to find out how you will be affected.
  • Most donors need to plan on between 1.5-2 weeks off work for the donation surgery and recovery time.
  • It takes between 4 to 6 weeks for full recovery from the surgery.
  • There are always risks involved in any major surgical procedure. Infection, allergic reactions, injury to other organs and tissue, pneumonia, and even death are all possibilities following surgery. Be aware of the risk and weigh it against your decision to donate.
  • Possible long-term risks to donating a kidney include hyper-tension (high blood pressure), hernia, organ impairment and the need for organ transplant, kidney failure, and death.

Choosing to donate an organ is an incredible act of generosity and it is a decision that saves lives. Be certain that your decision doesn’t jeopardize your own health and remember to always maintain a close relationship with your personal health team.