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FAQs Regarding Living Kidney Donation

No. Donors are advised to limit consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Yes. Alcohol is filtered through the liver, not the kidneys.

No, although there are risks associated with any major surgery. Studies have shown that kidney donors have a longer lifespan than the general population, presumably due to the fact that the average kidney donor is healthier than the average adult in the general population.

As with any surgery, there is a recovery period advised by the transplant center medical team. In general, donors are asked to refrain from heavy lifting for 6-8 weeks. Most donors return to their regular, pre-donation exercise routines post-donation. approximately 6 – 8 weeks.
The transplant center thoroughly tests both the donor candidate and the intended recipient to make this determination. If a direct match is not made, the transplant center will share options about donating on behalf of the intended recipient.
The National Kidney Registry Family Voucher addresses this concern. At the time of donation, the donor gives a voucher to up to 5 family members. If one of them needs a kidney, the voucher holder is prioritized for a living kidney transplant.

The recipient’s insurance pays for the donor’s testing, evaluation, and surgery.

Donors with desk jobs that don’t require heavy lifting can typically return to work within 2-4 weeks of surgery. Donors with a laptop working from home may feel ready to resume work within a week of surgery. Donors with more active jobs may need 6-8 weeks to fully recover. The transplant center will discuss option for lost wages accrued while taking time off work.
Donors generally stay 1-3 nights in the hospital.
There will be abdominal tenderness and many donors experience shoulder pain and some cramping as a result of anesthesia. Recovery time and the level of pain depends on the individual donor. Walking after surgery helps speed the recovery process.

Living kidney donors are highly prioritized if they ever need a deceased donor kidney. 

On average, the testing process can take several months, but may be longer depending on the donor’s availability and acquisition of requested medical records.
To donate a kidney, a donor candidate must be in good physical and mental health. Individual transplant centers set age limit guidelines. Candidates must also have normal kidney function. There are some medical conditions that could prevent someone from being a living donor. These include, but are not limited to, uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, acute infections, or a high BMI.
Donors do not need to follow a special diet. Nutrient-rich foods will help you keep their weight in check and lower the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Those steps will help maintain kidney health. Some doctors recommend that donors avoid eating too much protein, especially from protein powder, supplements, or red meat. Excess protein may make the kidney work harder.
If a potential donor is healthy enough to donate, but is not a match for their intended recipient, kidney paired donation (KPD), also called kidney exchange, gives that transplant candidate another option. In KPD, living donor kidneys are swapped so each recipient receives a compatible transplant.

A donor candidate may withdraw their decision until the anesthesiologist renders them unconscious.

Most kidney donations are done laparoscopically with minimal noticeable scarring. In rare circumstances, a larger incision may be made if the surgeon deems it necessary for the safety of the donor.
Although age requirements vary at different centers, the minimum age at some centers is 18 years old. Some centers have no maximum age for kidney donation if the donor is deemed healthy and medically able to proceed.
Yes. It is recommended that women who may plan to have children discuss this with their donor care team.

Donors may not be compensated for donating a kidney. However, expenses associated with a donation (travel, lodging, etc.) may be reimbursed through the National Kidney Registry Donor Shield suite of protections, the National Living Donor Assistance Center, or American Living Organ Donor Fund. You may also be eligible for lost wage reimbursement through one of these organizations.

Available options include remote donation (the donor’s kidney is flown to the recipient’s location), a kidney paired donation (described above), or a voucher donation (described above).

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