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Living Kidney Donation

Benefits and Risks of Living Donation

What are the benefits of living donation?


For Donors

Donating a kidney is an act of great kindness. Most donors don’t expect anything in return. Donors don’t gain any physical benefits from the donation procedure; however, they may have other benefits like satisfaction from knowing:

  • their decision to donate helped another person
  • that their gift means someone they care about can have a better quality of life
  • they’re in good health because of the very thorough medical check-up that’s part of the donation process

Most donors say that if they had to do it again, they would still donate their kidney. For donors, helping someone have a better quality of life can be very rewarding.

For Recipients

Living donor kidney transplants are successful 90 to 95 times in 100, 1 year after the transplant. When a transplant is working well, the recipient doesn’t need dialysis. Not needing to have dialysis means the recipient can get back to doing the things they used to do before dialysis, like go to work, exercise, and travel.

Many recipients say they:

  • have more energy
  • have a better appetite
  • sleep better
  • feel better overall

Other benefits may include:

  • a shorter waiting time for transplant
  • surgery that can be planned and done when both the donor and recipient are in the best possible physical and emotional health for surgery
  • the recipient has a transplant before needing dialysis

What are the risks of living donation?

Surgery to donate a kidney has the same risks and side effects that are common for any major surgery. These side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Many people get some numbness around the incision. Most complications don’t happen very often and can be treated.

These other risks from surgery are very low or rare:

  • Pneumonia – higher risk if you’re a smoker
  • Blood clot in your lower leg or lungs
  • Bleeding that may need a blood transfusion
  • Reaction to the anaesthetic (medicine that makes you sleep during surgery)
  • Hernia after the surgery
  • Change from laparoscopic (key-hole) surgery to open surgery
  • Pain from the incision or infection of the incision
  • Injury to​​ other organs during surgery
  • Death (3 in 10,000 donations, same as cesarean section)

The living donor program will talk with you more about your risks of the surgery.​​​​​​​​​​​​

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