Returning to normal life
When your kidney is removed, the other kidney will take over its function. This means that you will not notice any physical effects after a kidney donation. After the donation, you can return to your normal life. You will not need to follow any special diet and you will not be dependent on medication. It is a good idea to eat healthily, get enough exercise and not to smoke. This advice is not specifically related to the living donation and is more of a general rule. You will need to come to the hospital for a check-up once a year. Here we will look at your renal function, blood pressure and urine.
Living donation does not have any negative effect on your life expectancy. The life expectancy for someone with one kidney is the same as for people with two kidneys. Some studies do suggest that living donors have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure though. Discuss these risks with your doctor when you are considering living kidney donation.
Pregnancy and sport
Pregnancy is possible after a living donation, but it is recommended that you do not become pregnant sooner than six months after the donation.
It is important for you to realise that you will be more vulnerable with one kidney. If this one kidney becomes damaged, there may be serious consequences. It is therefore advisable to avoid contact sports (such as boxing) after your kidney donation. If you do wish to continue participating in this kind of sport, it is important for you to be careful and take extra measures to protect yourself.
Donors can experience the period after the donation as an emotional time. This applies for both donating a kidney to someone you know and donating to an unknown patient. During the initial examination, you will be anticipating the donation for a long time. The admission to hospital only lasts a couple of days. This can make the following period more difficult because of the abrupt ending of the process.
The donation process can affect your relationship with the recipient. You may have certain expectations of each other, the operation or the recovery. It may be that your expectations of the donation do not match your experience after the donation. The recovery processes for you and your recipient will be different. The recipient often feels better very soon after the operation, and has more energy than before. You have undergone an operation whilst healthy. You will feel less healthy after the surgery than before. It is sometimes difficult to find that you cannot go back to doing all the things you did before the operation straight away. It is important to think about this in advance. See also Ugur Karatas’ story.
Priority if you have kidney problems
The chance that you will develop kidney problems is small: between 0.1 and 1.1%. If you do ever need a new kidney yourself, you will be given priority on the waiting list for a postmortal kidney.