Living kidney donation and possible surgery problems
What are possible problems from a kidney donation surgery?
Living kidney donation has a very low chance of causing problems. This is probably because donors are evaluated so carefully and are only allowed to donate if they have a low chance of problems from surgery.
But living kidney donation is still surgery and uses general anesthesia. Surgery problems can include:
- Blood loss (which may require blood transfusions)
- Blood clots
- Allergic reactions to anesthesia
- Injury to other tissue or organs
- And even death
Laparoscopy causes fewer surgery problems
Laparoscopy is a type of surgery where the surgeon makes 3 or 4 small cuts in your stomach area instead of 1 long cut (which is called open surgery).
Living kidney donors who have laparoscopy will have some pain at first, but compared to donors who have open surgery, they will have:
- Less pain and discomfort
- Less time in the hospital
- An improved scar
- Overall faster recovery after surgery
What are the surgery problem rates?
Several studies have found these rates:
- About 3 out of 100 kidney donors (3%) had surgery problems
- About 2 out of 100 (1.7%) had to go back into the hospital
- 3-4 out of 1,000 donors (0.3%-0.4%) needed another surgery or a blood transfusion
- About 3 in 10,000 donors (.03%) died – this is a small chance
Kidney donors who have laparoscopy have a lower rate of going back into the hospital 1 year after surgery when compared with patients who had similar surgeries, like appendix or gallbladder removal.
Living kidney donation has low rates of problems and re-admissions to the hospital. The medical evaluation is thorough to make sure that people who donate a kidney have a low chance of problems.