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.


Fouad Chebib. M.D.

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June 14, 2022 See more Expert Answers