Adventures of a Kidney Donor

April 27, 2010

Nephrectomy: AKA Kidney Removal

This is a wonderful video from Tom who was a donor for his friend Doug. He explains the surgery and the donation process in a touching and humorous way. I just loved it.

There are basically two ways to remove a kidney, the laparoscopic method and the open method. The open method used to be the only way but medical science has advanced and the laparoscopic method is often an option.

The laparoscopic method is less invasive and usually has a faster recovery period. In laparoscopic radical nephrectomy the kidney is removed using narrow instruments placed through several small incisions in the abdomen after inflating the abdomen with gas. A telescope and small instruments are inserted into the abdomen through the incisions, so the surgeon can dissect the kidney without having to place his/her hands into the abdomen. The kidney is removed intact through an extension of one of the existing incision sites. It takes about 3-4 hours to do.

Open Nephrectomy is performed when the patient can’t undergo the laparoscopic method due to weight or other problems. A 6–10 inch incision is made on the side or front of the abdomen. The blood vessels connecting the kidney to the donor are cut and clamped, and the ureter is also cut between the bladder and kidney and clamped. The kidney is removed and the vessels and ureter are then tied off. It can take up to three hours.

The left kidney is preferred because of its longer renal artery. Sometimes the right kidney has to be taken due to various issues with the left. Depending on assessment the surgeon decides which kidney to take.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

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