The best kidney transplantations are done with kidneys from living donors who are related to the recipient. Usually giving up a kidney does not have negative effects on a donor.
However, the future is unknown and the potential donor should consider the fact that if their one remaining kidney should fail them one day, things will get complicated because of their earlier benevolence. If they are prepared to accept this, the process can begin.
In order to qualify as an eligible kidney donor, the individual must be between 18 and 70 years of age, and in good health, with healthy kidney function. Someone who has diabetes, cancer, or an infectious disease like AIDS or hepatitis, cannot become a donor. It is essential that the donor and recipient must be of compatible blood types.
There are two main types of surgery. Conventional open nephrectomy has been being performed since 1954. The first of these surgeries was a transplantation which involved identical twins. The incision for a conventional open nephrectomy is eight to 12 inches long and may necessitate taking out a rib.
The modified version requires an incision that is three to four inches long and does not remove a rib.
Laproscopic nephrectomy only takes a few half inch incisions on either side of the abdomen, and an incision of two to three inches below the navel. Laproscopic nephrectomy shortens recovery time, and causes less pain and trauma. This would be the preferred choice of operation.
The open nephrectomy would only be used if complications should arise.
Recovery after the surgery can take a few weeks if there were no complications. It can take up to several months otherwise. Life will go back to normal fairly quickly.
After about a year, the remaining kidney will have grown larger and will be doing more than the usual single kidney's function to compensate for the removed kidney.
Kidney function for the donor will need to be monitored more closely than usual. It's a good idea to drink more water, a recommended ten glasses a day, rather than eight. And contact sports that could injure a kidney might be best avoided.
Medications that might be hard on the remaining kidney, for instance ibuprofen, should no longer be taken.
According to the World Health Organization, kidneys are the donor organs in greatest demand worldwide. Approximately 4,000 kidney transplants from living donors are performed in the United States every year.
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