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Being a living donor

Types of transplant surgery

There are 2 main types of surgery:

1) Laparoscopy

The doctor uses a wand-like camera placed in 2-4 small cuts in your belly. It lets doctors view the kidney and take it out through a small cut. The doctor will then stich the cuts closed.

The benefits of this type of surgery include:

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Smaller cuts
  • Fewer post-surgery problems

2) Open surgery

The doctor cuts open your belly to take out the kidney. Then, they close the cut with stitches.

After your kidney is removed, the transplant surgical team connects the kidney into the transplant patient’s body right away.

Living donor kidney transplant surgery

Watch this video about living donor surgery.

What happens after donation surgery?

icon for kidney transplant from live donor

In the first weeks after surgery, you’ll need to arrange a caregiver to help you with daily activities.


2-4 days after surgery

Recover in the hospital. You’ll feel pain from surgery. Doctors will give you pain medicines and stool softeners.

1 week after

You’ll need to rest while you heal.

2-4 weeks after

You’ll feel much better. Most donors can drive and return to their normal lives at this point.

4-6 weeks after

You can return to exercising, though you should probably avoid sports that can cause physical harm, such as football

6-12 months after

If you are a woman who plans to get pregnant, wait until this point to discuss this with your doctor. This gives your body time to recover from surgery and adjust to 1 kidney.

After the first year

You may need to go back yearly for 1-2 years for a check-up.

Many donors give a kidney to someone they live with. If you’re donating to someone in your home, you’ll need someone else in your home to help both of you heal.

Leaders in transplant excellence

UNOS works with leading educational partners to provide accurate, trustworthy health information. Our educational partners include:

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Duke University School of Medicine
Emory University
Johns Hopkins University
Mount Sinai Hospital
Northwestern University
Temple University
University of California, Los Angeles

 

 

 

Special thanks to our corporate sponsor for supporting excellence in transplant education:

 

 

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