Kidney Donation FAQ

1. If I give one kidney away, will that be harmful to my body somehow?

In general, those who live with only a single kidney experience minimal to no health issues. In fact, over time, a single kidney can actually grow inside the body to compensate for its lack of a “partner” kidney with which to work. However, later in life, some people with only 1 kidney can experience high blood pressure. Likewise, a loss in kidney function is possible, but that usually takes 25 years to occur. For the most part, people with just one kidney do perfectly fine, and live entirely normal lives.

2. How do I qualify to potentially become a kidney donor?

In the case of Mr. Richard Ruth, you’ll need to undergo an exam by Ruth’s doctor, who’s with the University of San Francisco. You also must be between 18 and 70 years of age, and in good health. Also essential is that you match Mr. Ruth’s blood type: type O. If your blood is not a match, you’ll have the option of being put on a Kidney Donor Chain, which is essentially a matchmaking service pairing kidney donors and donees. 

3. What happens during the surgery?

Since the surgery is a major operation, you’ll be put asleep, under a general anesthetic. The organ will be removed through what’s called a “keyhole.” Simply stated, some small incisions will be made in your body, through which larger instruments will be passed to take the organ out. The process takes between 2 and 3 hours. Afterward, you can expect to have a wound drain, a catheter, and IVs inserted in your body to keep your system regulated and healthy, but all such things are temporary.

4.What is the recovery period like after donating kidney?

In general, you can expect 2 days in the hospital, followed by a 4-6-week recovery period.

5. What if I donate the kidney, and it doesn’t take? What happens then?

In this day and age, a total kidney rejection is a rare event. Sometimes, however, they do occur, possibly owed to fluid buildup, blood clots, incompatibility with medication, or just plain organ incompatibility that cannot be pinned down to a specific source. In such rare occurrences, for the donor and the donee, moving forward and living as healthily as possible is the only route. 

6. What are the potential risks involved in donating a kidney?

As stated above, those with 1 kidney can anticipate a healthy life. As for the donee, he faces low odds of the kidney failing. In approximately 80 percent of cases, the kidney will succeed, and in those cases where it doesn’t, things tend to be fine for years after the transplant. 

7. What do I get in exchange for being a donor? Do I get paid? 

In the United States, organ donors are not legally allowed to profit. As such, a donor should be motivated by making a positive impact in the world, in the form of saving a life.