ChristianaCare

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At ChristianaCare, everything we do is For the Love of Health™, and that focus has guided our response throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have redesigned how we deliver care to keep our patients and caregivers safe, while providing the high-quality care that our community needs and deserves. This includes greatly expanded options for virtual care and telehealth visits, as well as guidelines that support social distancing, wearing masks, a clean environment and limited numbers of patients and visitors to ensure safety. Learn More

Kidney Transplant Program

Post Donation Care

Our team ensures that you receive the best possible care throughout the entire donation process. Our care team members are there each step of the way.

Your length of stay and recovery in Christiana Hospital will depend the individual donor’s rate of recovery and the type of procedure performed (traditional open vs laparoscopic kidney removal) although the usual stay is 4 days. Since the rate of recovery varies greatly among individuals, be sure to ask the transplant team for their estimate of your particular recovery time.

After leaving the hospital, the donor will typically feel tenderness, itching and some pain as the incision continues to heal. Generally, heavy lifting is not recommended for about six weeks following surgery. It is also recommended that donors avoid contact sports where the remaining kidney could be injured. It is important for the donor to speak with the transplant team about the best ways to return as quickly as possible to being physically fit.

Transplant team members are available after patients have returned home to provide additional information and answer questions.

Taking Care of Yourself

Soon after surgery and during your stay in the hospital, your transplant team will teach you more about taking your new medicines. You will learn when to take your medicines, how to take them, what happens if you miss a dose, and what side effects the medicines might cause.

How does living donation affect the donor?

Donors can live normal lives with only one kidney. As long as the donor is evaluated thoroughly and cleared for donation, he or she can lead a normal life after the surgery. When the kidney is removed, the single normal kidney will increase in size to compensate for the loss of the donated kidney.

Physical exercise is healthy and good for you. However, it’s important for someone with only one kidney to be careful and protect it from injury. Some doctors think it is best to avoid contact sports like football, boxing, hockey, soccer, martial arts, or wrestling. Wearing protective gear such as padded vests under clothing can help protect the kidney from injury during sports. This can help lessen the risk, but it won’t take away the risk. Talk to the transplant team or your healthcare provider if you want to join in contact sports.

Emotionally, what can I expect after donating a kidney?

According to research conducted by the National Kidney Foundation, living donors often report a wide range of mixed emotions, from joy and relief to anxiety to depression.

The process of getting through the evaluation and surgery can be so time-consuming that donors do not always have time to process everything they are feeling. It is normal for these emotions to come to the forefront after the donation and transplant take place.

Living donors generally rate their experience as positive. Different studies indicate that between 80-97% of donors say that in retrospect, they would have still have made the decision to donate.

However, concerns about the recipient’s outcome (as well as the donor’s recovery) can contribute to feelings of anxiety, and may donors report a feeling of “let down” afterwards.

Feelings of depression among living donors are not uncommon, even when both donor and recipient are doing well.

Also reported by the NKF is that while extensive data on these issues is lacking, some studies have reported the following psychological outcomes:

  • Less than 1% regretted the decision.
  • 3 to 10% reported depression.
  • 10% reported “family conflicts”.
  • 7% reported anxiety disorders.
  • 16% concerned about negative financial consequences of donation.
  • 3 to 15% concerned about a negative impact on their health.

Statistics provided by National Kidney Foundation.

Living donors who are struggling with these issues are encouraged to:

  1. Talk to the transplant team’s social worker for advice.
  2. Seek professional counseling or other outside help to manage difficult emotions.
  3. Talk with other living donors who can be particularly supportive if they have experienced the same feelings.

If you find that you are struggling with mixed emotions at any time after you donate, you should:

  • Let your transplant team know how you are feeling both physically and emotionally during your follow-up visits.
  • Talk to the transplant social worker for support and guidance.
  • Seek professional counseling or other outside help to manage difficult emotions.
  • Talk with other living donors who can be particularly supportive if they have experienced the same feelings.

What are the long-term risks of donation?

You will also have a scar from the donor operation- the size and location of the scar will depend on the type of operation you have (i.e. open vs. laparoscopic).

Some donors have reported long-term problems with pain, nerve damage, hernia or intestinal obstruction. These risks seem to be rare, but there are currently no national statistics on the frequency of these problems.

In addition, people with one kidney may be at a greater risk of:

  • high blood pressure.
  • Proteinuria.
  • Reduced kidney function.

You should discuss these risks with your transplant team, and ask for center-specific statistics related to these problems.