Life After Donating

The decision to donate a kidney and the act of doing so are part of an important and personal process. Giving of yourself in this way is a gift of immeasurable value. At Beaumont, we're privileged to be involved in this work, and we will always strive to make it a positive and successful experience for you and the recipient.

Following are some questions and answers about your post-operative follow-up care.

Q. How long will my recovery take?

Each donor's time frame varies. Many find that regaining their previous energy level takes four to six weeks. For others it may take more or less time. Start walking and increasing your activity level as soon as you feel up to it. Each day, do a little bit more - but always within reason. Depending on the individual patient, recovery time after laparoscopic surgery can be just a couple of weeks. While recovery time following a traditional open kidney removal can be several weeks, those undergoing the minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure will return home in a couple of days. They can be back to work or their normal routine in just a couple of weeks.

Q. When can I drive?

Typically, two to three weeks after surgery. It may take longer if you are taking pain medication or you are unable to make quick movements while driving. Check with your Beaumont surgeon for permission to drive.

Q. When can I get back to work?

With kidney donors, it usually takes two to four weeks - depending on your type of work. Some patients return to work half days for the first week. Patients having laparoscopic surgery often return to work one to three weeks sooner than patients with the traditional open incision. If your job requires heavy lifting, your surgeon may recommend that you not return for up to six weeks, to allow time for your incision to heal and strengthen.

Q. What guidelines should I follow after surgery?

  • Drink extra fluids.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid driving for two to three weeks, and while you are taking pain medicines.
  • Avoid lifting items heavier than 10 pounds.
  • Avoid vigorous activity for six weeks.
  • Gradually increase your activity and exercise. Walking is a great way to start.
  • You may resume sexual relations in two to four weeks, as you feel ready.

Q. What will my life be like with a single kidney?

Your lifespan, physical activity and lifestyle should not be affected. Donors are able to resume all pre-surgical activities and lead healthy, productive lives. Transplant physicians have studied donors for more than 30 years and have seen no increased incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes or other diseases - and no change in life expectancy.

Q. Do I need to see a doctor after kidney donation?

Yes. You'll see the transplant urologist within four weeks after discharge and at six months. After that, we recommend follow-up and routine care with your family doctor. It's important to have your blood pressure, urine and kidney function checked every year.

Q. Can I continue with plans to have children after I am a kidney donor?

Yes. Medical evidence has found no increased risk to you or your baby. In general, you should wait a few months after kidney donation to become pregnant. Make sure your doctor knows you were a kidney donor, to ensure that your doctor has all pertinent medical information.

Q. I'm interested in donating a kidney. What should I do, or whom do I contact?

Congratulations on your decision to give the gift of life. Your first step is to contact the Beaumont Transplant Clinic at 248-551-1033.