I'm considering kidney donation. Are there long-term risks?

Answers from Erik P. Castle, M.D.

In general, kidney donation has minimal long-term risks, especially when compared with the health risks in the general population. However, kidney donation may very slightly increase your risk of eventually developing kidney failure yourself, particularly if you're a middle-aged black man. The increased risk is minimal and translates into less than a 1 percent chance of future kidney failure.

As a potential kidney donor, you'll receive a thorough medical exam to determine whether you're a good match for the potential recipient. And you'll be carefully checked to make sure you don't have any health problems that might be made worse by donating a kidney.

Kidney donation involves major surgery and there are risks, including bleeding and infection. But the overwhelming majority of kidney donors recover with minimal complications. After your kidney is removed (nephrectomy), you'll usually stay only overnight in the hospital and complete your recovery at home. With time, your remaining kidney will enlarge as it takes on additional blood flow and filtration of wastes.

Your long-term survival rate is about the same as that for people in the general population who aren't kidney donors. Regular checkups, including monitoring of your kidney function and blood pressure, generally are recommended to evaluate your health after kidney donation.

April 28, 2017 See more Expert Answers