What is kidney donation?
Kidney donation is the most frequent type of living organ donation. There is little risk for the donor to live with one kidney because the remaining kidney compensates to do the work of both kidneys.
An individual doesn’t have to be related to the person in order to donate a kidney. In order to be a kidney donor, an individual has to be in good health and be free from high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Usually donors are between the ages of 18 to 60. A donor definitely cannot be younger than 18 but if an individual is over 60 and in excellent health he or she can be considered if the recipient is in the same age range.
Northwell Health is dedicated to staying on the cutting-edge of kidney donation techniques. We were the first in the world to perform the LESS donor nephrectomy, through which the kidney is removed through a single small incision in the abdomen, resulting in less pain and scarring and a quicker recovery.
What to expect
A donor has to undergo blood tests to see if his or her blood type is compatible with the recipient. Gender and race are not factors. The following lists the blood types that match:
- O (donor) can donate to O, A, B, AB (recipient)
- A (donor) can donate to A, AB (recipient)
- B (donor) can donate to B, AB (recipient)
- AB (donor) can donate to AB (recipient)
If a donor’s blood type is compatible, he or she will need to have more testing to make sure they can donate their kidney. Those tests include:
- Meeting with a transplant nephrologist, a kidney doctor who specializes in transplant medicine
- Meeting with a surgeon, who will evaluate the donor and surgically remove the kidney for donation
- Meeting with a transplant coordinator, who will help organize the entire transplant/donation experience
- Meeting with a social worker, who will discuss what the donor should expect from being a kidney donor and will make sure that he or she has social support throughout and after the donation
- Blood tests: the donor and the patient will have a cross match to see if there is any reaction when their blood is mixed together; also, the physicians will test the donor blood to make sure that he or she is in good health
- Chest X-ray
- EKG or heart tracings
- Urine tests: urine analysis and 24-hour urine analysis
- Kidney ultrasound
- CAT scan of the abdomen
- Dental clearance
- PPD test for tuberculosis
- Women will need pap smear, pregnancy test and mammogram (if she is of age)
The donor may need to repeat certain tests as the need arises. This is because the physicians are being very thorough to make sure the donor won't be at any increased risk.
Once the physicians have received all of the donor’s tests and the donor has been cleared by the kidney doctor and the surgeon and the recipient has also been cleared, the medical team can schedule the date for the transplant.
There are a few more appointments that the donor and recipient both will need though. They include:
- A final cross-match where physicians recheck both participant’s blood to make sure that there aren't any new reactions.
- The donor and recipient will need to meet with the anesthesia team.
- Finally, the physicians will need to get donor consent for the surgery. Here the donor will meet with each of the surgeons and the full details of the surgery will be covered. The donor can ask anything that he or she may have forgotten.
The night before surgery, the medical team will ask the donor not to eat or drink at least 12 hours before surgery. The donor will be asked to come to the hospital the day of surgery. Right before surgery, the anesthesia team will connect an intravenous line so that fluids can be given. The donor will be brought to the operating room. There he or she will see the surgeon before they are given medications to put them to sleep. The majority of kidney donations are done by laparoscopic surgery. Cameras and other instruments are placed inside. The surgeon uses the camera to look inside. The image is shown on a big television monitor in the operating room. The cuts are small and allow the donor and recipient to heal a lot faster.
There is some pain from the surgery and the donor will be given medication to help control it. The donor will wake up in the recovery room and monitored there for a few hours. Afterward, he or she will be brought to the hospital floor for the remainder of their stay. The medical team expects to send the donor home two days after the surgery.
In general, the donor needs to follow up with the surgeon seven to 10 days after the surgery. The donor will be given an exact date for the follow up appointment before leaving the hospital.
Frequently asked questions
My doctor said I need a kidney transplant. What services are available at Northwell Health?
Patients who are candidates for kidney transplantation and individuals considering living donation can be evaluated at Northwell Health.
Once the evaluation is completed the transplantation surgery is scheduled if a living donor is available. In case no living donors are available, patients will go on to the waiting list for receiving deceased donor kidney transplants.
Who will be evaluated for kidney transplantation?
- Anyone who is on dialysis for end stage kidney disease
- Anyone who has chronic kidney disease with less than 20 percent of normal kidney function
- Under special circumstances, patients with kidney diseases who have more than 20 percent kidney function may also be candidates for transplant evaluation
Do I need a referral for transplantation?
Though patients do not need a referral for transplant evaluation, a patient will be better informed if he/she discusses this option with their primary care provider. The patient and their primary care provider can also call our center and ask for more information.
How can I get an appointment for transplant evaluation?
Call our center at (516) 472-8200 and ask for an appointment or fax us at (516) 472-5802 with your contact information. We will ask for basic medical information and insurance information to expedite the process.
Where and when do I come in for a transplant evaluation?
The patient will have a transplant evaluation at 1554 Northern Boulevard, First Floor, in Manhasset. Please schedule at least three to four hours for this evaluation appointment. Pre-transplant evaluations are done on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Other times may be available, so please call ahead.
What should I expect when I come for transplant evaluation?
The patient will meet with a transplant surgeon, transplant nephrologist, transplant coordinator, social worker, registered dietitian and financial coordinator. We will conduct a complete physical exam and blood tests will be done. Referrals will be provided for other tests that will be needed prior to kidney transplant or listing.
I want to be a kidney donor for someone. Can I get information and evaluation at the center?
Potential donors can be evaluated at the center. Evaluation expenses are covered by the recipient’s insurance. Potential donors can contact us for further information and to schedule an appointment.
If I received a kidney transplant, what services can I receive at Northwell Health?
Through our network, we are able to provide easy, accessible and up-to-date care for organ transplant recipients in the out-patient and in-hospital settings. We also maintain close communication with other transplant centers and obtain all the basic information required to provide meaningful and optimal care for our transplant recipients.
Will I be on any medications after donating my kidney?
Donors will not need to be on any medications following the donation other than the pain medication. Usually, donors only need this for a week or two after the surgery.
Will I need to drink any more or less than I did prior to donation?
No, donors can drink the same amount as they did before.
Will this affect my ability to have children?
When will I be able to return to work?
We generally suggest two to three weeks after surgery. This is something donors can discuss with their surgeon at the follow up visit after surgery.
Do I quality for medical leave of absence from my job?
Yes. Donors can contact their human resources department for details. Their paperwork can be filled out by the surgeon.
Who will cover the cost of my workup and surgery?
The cost for this is covered 100 percent by the recipient's insurance.
Can I get financial assistance for being a kidney donor?
Although donors cannot be paid for donating a kidney, there are programs that can help donors with travel and hotel costs. Our financial coordinator will be more than happy to provide details.