The Facts

You Can Live With One Kidney

When most people think about kidney donation, many people think of checking a box on their driver’s license. But guess what? You don’t have to be deceased in order to donate your kidney. Becoming a living kidney donor is becoming more common, safer and more convenient than ever before.

The biggest stumbling block in living kidney donation is that people don’t know the facts!  What are they? We’re glad you asked.

kidney donor facts

Living Kidney Donation Facts

  1. Living kidney donation is the best option for those on the national kidney waitlist. A kidney transplant allows the recipient to live longer, to stop the use of dialysis and to feel like the most normal version of themselves. Transplant surgeons have successfully been performing living kidney donations since the 1950s. In fact, donating a kidney is the most common living organ donation.
  2. Living kidney donation is safe. The chances of complications during surgery are extremely low. Having a C-section is actually riskier than a kidney transplant. Kidney donors can be out of the hospital now in less than 24 hours with minimal scarring and back to work within 2 weeks.
  3. Living kidney donors go through an extensive medical workup before they are ever cleared to donate. Because kidney donors are extremely healthy, the chances of them experiencing kidney failure at some point in their lives are extremely low. If however, they do need a kidney, they will be moved to the top of the list. 
  4. You don’t need to be related to someone in order to donate. Matches are made based on the donor and recipient’s blood and tissue typing compatibility. Strangers donate to one another all the time.
  5. You only need one kidney. Even with one, it has the capacity to do more than your body actually needs. Your remaining kidney will grow slightly larger and takes on the major role of filtering waste and extra fluid from your body. 
  6. Even if you are not a match to your intended recipient, you can enter into a paired kidney exchange program. We recommend going through the NKR who will match you with another donor/recipient pair thus saving even more lives.
  7. Experiencing prior health problems does not mean you will never be able to donate. If you have high blood pressure for example, as long as you are taking medication to regulate it and are otherwise healthy, you can donate. Let an experienced transplant team make that decision for you.
  8. You can still have a baby. Donating a kidney will not make it harder for you to get pregnant or deliver a baby. However, it is recommended to wait at least one year to give your body plenty of time to heal.
  9. The other person’s insurance will cover the medical expenses associated with the donor’s kidney transplant. This includes all of the medical work up prior to the actual transplant. In addition, there are many organizations that can assist with lost wages and other possible hardships associated with donating. The NKR offers the donor shield program offering many advantages to donors. Click here to learn more. 
  10. Living kidney donors can still live normal lives following the transplant. Drinking alcohol and participating in contact sports can still be a part of the donor’s life post-transplant. The institute of medicine recommends that people, including donors, drink 2-3 liters of water each day to promote good health. It is also recommended that kidney donors try to avoid NSAIDS.