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Donor benefits and risks

  • Tip

    The benefits may be very personal to you. In general, donors feel fulfilled to help a loved one regain a more normal lifestyle free from dialysis.

    You have made a decision that will positively affect someone's life. Kidney transplant surgery offers several benefits for the recipient, including:

    • an improved quality of life
    • no more dialysis
    • the ability to schedule transplant surgery
    • fewer complications (problems) than from a deceased donor
    • a faster working kidney than from a deceased donor (usually)
    • more time to do what he or she enjoys
    • no food or beverage restrictions
    • a greater chance for a longer life.

    Donor risks

    As with any surgery, kidney donation surgery has risks. Possible risks include:

    • surgery side effects
      • reaction to anesthesia (Your body may react to the medicine used to put you to sleep during surgery. For more on anesthesia, see page 60.)
      • infection
      • bleeding
    • future kidney problems (If you one day develop a problem with your remaining kidney, such as an injury, you may need dialysis or a transplant.)
    • death (in rare cases).

    If you work in a job that puts your physical safety at risk (such as a police officer, firefighter or the military), talk with the transplant coordinator before making the commitment to donate.

    Donor approval

    After you finish your blood and other tests, the transplant coordinator will give the information to the transplant team. The team will make a decision based on your health history, current health and how you are prepared emotionally to donate a kidney. The transplant coordinator will give you the decision and answer any questions.