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Donating a Kidney

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Topic Overview


What is involved in kidney transplant surgery?

You will be given a general anesthetic before your surgery. Until recently, the removal of a kidney required an 8 in. (20.3 cm) to 9 in. (22.9 cm) incision on one side of the body (flank). Now, laparoscopy is usually used to remove the donor kidney. Advantages of laparoscopic kidney removal include less pain, shorter hospital stays, a more rapid return to normal activities, and a smaller, less noticeable scar.

What are the risks of becoming a kidney donor?

Donating a kidney has not caused an increase in other health problems for donors. Organ donors continue to be carefully studied by many research groups in the United States. The risk of death following kidney donation is extremely rare.

What limitations will I have after I have donated a kidney?

Donating a kidney will not cause any limitations in your normal daily activities. After the recovery from your surgery, you will be able to resume all of your normal activities, including exercising and participating in sports.

Donating a kidney will not affect your ability to become pregnant, carry a child to term, or father a child.

Who pays my hospital costs?

In the United States, your medical costs will be covered by the recipient's medical insurance. Most insurance companies cover 100% of the medical costs of a transplant, including pretransplant evaluations and lab tests. If the recipient does not have medical insurance, your medical costs will be covered by Medicare.

More information

For more information on becoming a kidney donor, see:

  • Transweb at
  • National Kidney Foundation at
  • American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) at
  • United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) at or

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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