I'm thinking about kidney donation. Are there long-term risks?
Answer From Fouad Chebib. M.D.
Kidney donation has few long-term risks for generally healthy people.
But there are risks. Kidney donation may slightly increase your risk of one day having kidney failure. This is especially true for Black men. But the increase in risk is small. There's a less than 1% chance of future kidney failure after kidney donation.
Before you donate a kidney, you need a full medical exam. Your health care provider checks to see if you're a good match for the person who might get the kidney. You'll also be checked to make sure you don't have any health problems that could be made worse by donating a kidney.
Kidney donation involves major surgery. Risks of major surgery include bleeding and infection. But most kidney donors recover with few or no problems.
After having the surgery to remove a kidney (nephrectomy), you may stay 1 to 2 nights in the hospital. The rest of your recovery is typically completed at home. With time, the kidney you have left gets a little bigger as it takes on extra blood flow and works to filter wastes.
The long-term survival rate after kidney donation is about the same as that for generally healthy people who aren't kidney donors. After kidney donation, it's important to have regular health checkups. These include kidney function tests and blood pressure checks.
June 14, 2022
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Grams ME, et al. Kidney-failure risk projection for the living kidney-donor candidate. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2016; doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1510491.
- Lentine KL, et al. Kidney transplantation in adults: Risk of living kidney donation. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 21, 2022.
- Lentine KL, et al. Kidney transplantation in adults: Evaluation of the living kidney donor candidate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 21, 2022.
- Yu ASL, et al., eds. Considerations in living kidney donation. In: Brenner & Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 21, 2022.
- AskMayoExpert. Living donor nephrectomy (adult). Mayo Clinic; 2021.
- Lentine KL, et al. Risks of living kidney donation: Current state of knowledge on outcomes important to donors. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2019; doi:10.2215/CJN.11220918.