Becoming a living kidney donor at Tulane Medical Center is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.
Volunteering to be a living donor is a generous act. The transplant waiting list continues to grow, outpacing the available organs from deceased donors. Donating a kidney is a major decision, and no one should feel pressured into acting as a living donor. Potential donors should be sure to carefully consider their decision.
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The most successful matches come from immediate family members since they share many similar genes. However, matches are possible from extended family, friends, coworkers, and even altruistic donors. The success rate of living kidney donor kidneys, no matter what the relationship, is significantly greater than those from deceased donors.
The recipient’s insurance will pay for the workup process, surgery and post-surgery clinic visits. Donors are responsible for their own transportation, lodging and any lost wages. Tulane’s transplant navigators are available to answer any questions related to expenses and potential financial resources.
One of our transplant coordinators will schedule a surgery date that is convenient for you. Usually, a donor will be seen a few days before surgery for final evaluations and tests to ensure that his or her kidneys are functioning correctly.
A laparoscopic nephrectomy is a less invasive surgical procedure used for living kidney donation. Donors are usually up a few hours after surgery and return to normal activities within two-to-three weeks. Other advantages of this less invasive procedure include fewer complications, a shorter hospital stay, less pain and better cosmetic results. However, if a traditional open-nephrectomy surgery is necessary; our surgeons have an extensive background in these procedures as well.
The donor is taken to the operating room where a general anesthetic is used throughout the surgery. Immediately afterward, the removed kidney is taken into another operating room to be transplanted in the recipient. Often, the kidney begins to function in the recipient before the donor is in the recovery room. The donor procedure usually lasts about three-to-four hours.
Recovery can be different for each patient. The donor is usually hospitalized for three-to-five days. Donors typically return to work four weeks after the surgery. All heavy lifting and strenuous activity should be avoided for about four weeks.
No – according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Labor, individuals who choose to donate an organ are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and do not have to fear losing their job. Organ donation qualifies as a “serious medical condition,” since donors require hospital stays and inpatient care.