Friday, August 14, 2009

Living Kidney Donation FAQ

Living kidney donation is a great gift where an individual offers a part of themselves in order to save someone else's life. It is a big decision and although many have thought of being possible organ donors, there are many questions involved in living kidney donation that sometimes keeps people from donating.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about living kidney donation.

Who can donate?

Anyone who is in good general health and has a genuine interest in donating.

Donors are often restricted to between the ages of 18 to 70, though there have kidney donations made by people younger than 18. Much of it depends on the protocol of the kidney transplant centers.

To be able to donate there are a few qualifications, like having a blood type compatible with the recipient. Donors who have high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, sickle cell disease, HIV or hepatitis often do not qualify.

How will I know if I am suitable a suitable donor?

The kidney transplant center will provide you a thorough medical and psychological assessment to establish that you are fit and healthy to make a kidney donation. The results of the test will allow the healthcare team to make an informed decision whether you are suitable to make the kidney donation.

What are the health risks associated with donating?

Your surgeon and nurse coordinator will discuss all health risks with you. The risks of kidney donation stem from the transplant surgery, where bleeding and infection are possible. Death resulting from kidney donation is extremely rare.

Should I be worried about possible risks in the long-term?

Studies have shown that kidney donation has no long-term effect on the health or your remaining kidney. There is a small possibility of a slight rise in blood pressure and excess protein in your urine.

You will be at no greater risk of developing kidney failure after donating than anyone in the general population.
Studies have shown that donors live longer than the average population. This is because donors are selected on the basis of good health and are thoroughly screened prior to donation.

Will kidney donation affect my lifestyle?

A person can lead an active, normal life with only one kidney. Studies have shown that one kidney is sufficient to keep the body healthy. After recovering from transplant surgery a donor can return to the same lifestyle they used to have.

What should I expect after the transplant surgery?

Upon discharge, you may feel a bit of pain or swelling from the wound. This takes a bit of time to heal. You will be asked not to lift anything that weighs more that 20 lbs for the first four weeks after kidney donation. You may feel tired for the first week or two after the surgery and may need extra rest.

Donors often return to work 2-3 weeks after the transplant surgery, depending on the type of work. Some donors require a longer recovery period if their work requires heavy lifting or other physical demands.

Who pays for the transplant costs?

The donor does not incur medical costs in the kidney donation process. The expenses related to the living kidney donation evaluation as well as the hospitalization costs, transplant surgery and physician services provided during the kidney donation process and related transplant costs are covered by the recipient, often by their health insurance.

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