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Life After Donation
Follow-Up After Donation
Transplant Centers are required to follow living kidney donors for at least 2 years following the donation surgery.
All donors should be seen at the following time points: a visit with their surgeon at some point between 2 to 6 weeks after the surgery, and then at 6, 12 and 24 months by the team at the transplant center.
Certain information about the health of the donor must be submitted to the United Network for Organ Sharing, as required by transplant regulations. If donors cannot visit the Transplant Center, they may see their own primary care physician, who can then forward the pertinent information to the Transplant Center.
Donor Follow-up is Critical
Donor follow-up is essential to enable the transplant community to assess the true risk of donor complications. If donors do not return to the transplant center for follow-up, known complication rates may be falsely low due to under-reporting.
Although donors are not required to follow-up with the transplant center forever, it is recommended that donors follow-up with their primary care physician once per year.
At those yearly visits, the following should be checked:
- Urinalysis should be performed to check for protein in the urine
- Blood pressure should be measured
Past donors should also have blood tests every few years to measure their creatinine level, which is an indicator of kidney function. The creatinine should be checked more frequently if any abnormalities are found on the annual urinalysis or blood pressure measurement.
Maintaining Health After Kidney Donation
Living organ donors are generally very healthy before transplant and maintain a healthy lifestyle. After donation, it is important to keep up those healthy habits in order to avoid medical problems in the future.
The following are some suggestions that can help past living kidney donors to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Past Donors
- A healthy diet which limits salt intake to recommended amounts
- Regular exercise
- Do not smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Go for annual follow-up to check blood pressure and look for any signs of kidney problems
- Avoid medications that can be toxic to your kidneys (by informing all doctors and pharmacist that you were a donor)
- Avoid excessive use of over-the-counter medications containing aspirin or ibuprofen (acetaminophen is preferred). Use of an aspirin to protect your heart is generally okay.
- Considering wearing a medical alert bracelet that indicates that you were a kidney donor and thus only have one kidney
Pregnancy After Kidney Donation
It is generally recommended that female kidney donors wait at least 6 to 12 months after donation to become pregnant. In addition, the kidney donation should be discussed with the physician managing the potential pregnancy.
The outcomes of pregnancy after kidney donation appear to be similar to those of the general population. However, some studies have shown that there may be an increased risk of preeclampsia/high blood pressure in pregnancies that occur after donation compared to pre-donation pregnancies. More information is needed to fully understand the risk of complications, since much of the existing data is from surveys and registries.
For male kidney donors, donation does not impact their ability to father a child.