After donating a kidney to a loved one, you can expect to live a life that is as normal as anyone. There are no limitations on your lifestyle, exercise, or life span. A recent study by the University of Minnesota found that donors had a normal life span and were as healthy as people who have two functioning kidneys.
There are probably a few questions you have before donating a kidney. What you should know is that the risks of donation are similar to those involved with any major surgery, such as bleeding and infection. Death resulting from kidney donation is extremely rare. Current research indicates that kidney donation does not change life expectancy or increase a person’s risks of developing kidney disease or other health problems.
A person can lead an active, normal life with only one kidney. Studies have shown that one kidney is sufficient to keep the body healthy. After recovering from surgery, a donor can work, drive, exercise and participate in sports, though contact sports are not recommended. A donor can continue in all types of occupations, including military duty. Also, being a donor does not impact a person’s ability to have a child.
A recent article that evaluated data on a donor’s ability to obtain life, disability, or health insurance after surgery found that the majority of donors surveyed did not experience any problems. However, the article indicated that a small percentage of donors reported some difficulty with obtaining insurance.
When you return home, your activities will be limited. You should not lift anything that weighs more that 20 lbs for the first four weeks. You may feel tired for the first week or two after the surgery and may need frequent naps. However, donors are encouraged to be active in between their periods of rest. Walking is considered excellent exercise during this time. You may also have some swelling around the incision area and should plan to wear loose, comfortable clothes. You will likely be able to return to work 2-3 weeks after the surgery, depending on the type of work. However some donors require a longer recovery period if their work requires heavy lifting or other physical demands.
Although there may be some small changes in your life during the first 1-2 months, you will be able to resume a normal life after that and enjoy knowing that you saved the life of a loved one.