Adventures of a Kidney Donor

August 26, 2011

Advice from a Kidney Donor

Filed under: Kidney Donation,Medical,Psychology — by anne315 @ 12:47 pm
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No one should talk you into or out of donating. Read as much as you can, talk to other donors and medical professionals and decide for yourself. There is nothing wrong with deciding  that donation isn’t for you.

Read as much as you can, including medical literature and people’s personal experiences. When you are going for tests, read about what those tests will be like. Having said this, don’t read TOO much. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, set the reading material aside for a little while. I have some resources here: Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

Dealing with reactions from others. I had some well-meaning friends that were unconsciously not supportive. People will tell you how dangerous the surgery is, think you are crazy for donating, and I suspect have underlying guilt that they would never consider donating themselves. There is nothing wrong with not being able to consider organ donation.  The other side of the coin is the “hero” aspect. I get uncomfortable with the “hero” idea.

Emotions you may feel: It is normal to be scared, apprehensive, worried, anxious excited etc. Just because you have decided to donate doesn’t mean you can’t feel this way. Many organ donors (as in my case) have never been in the hospital before so there are a lot of unknowns to face.

In the Hospital

Have a supporter with you. You will be out of it so you will need help in asking for things and understanding your doses for pain and other medications when you go home. My sister was invaluable! Thanks sis!

If you are prone to nausea or even think you may be, ask the Anesthesiologist to administer a good dose of anti-nausea medication. Many hospitals don’t automatically administer or prescribe anti-nausea  medication so get on a schedule to receive it. Nausea is hard to chase. Get some anti-nausea  medication to take home.

Don’t be afraid to ask the medical professionals questions and answer their questions honestly about your pain levels, how your urination and bowel movements are going etc.

Keep moving. It might be your inclination to curl up with your pain but you will feel better if you walk. The nurses and doctors will tell you when they want you to start. In my case, it was the evening of my surgery.

Get a small pillow. This was a great “security blanket” for me. It’s a great way to brace your sore abdomen when you move, cough or sneeze.


Post surgery advice from Johns Hopkins.

Don’t compare yourself to other donors. I fell into that when I got home because I felt that my recovery was slower than other donors I read/heard about. You will heal at your own pace.

Drink a lot of water. Stock up on foods you like that are easy on the stomach. For those of us in the Midwest, Vernors ginger ale is a godsend.

Keep moving. It might be your inclination to curl up with your pain but you will feel better if you walk as much as possible. Move carefully though, avoid twisting motions to prevent hernia.

Get a bed tray with legs to eat on and to keep your laptop off of your lap.

“Grabber. If you live alone, consider getting something to pick things up off of the floor. I had no idea how many times a day I drop things until it hurt to bend down and get them.  I became pretty adept at picking things up with my feet!

You may feel a little down after the hoopla of the surgery and all that led up to it is over. This is normal.

Think about your recipient being free from dialysis and how much their life has improved. When I am queasy and/or sore this is very comforting.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation


  1. Hero does apply esp when you were going into the unknown. You didn’t HAVE to do it, but you choose to do it and I’m sure the person who got your former kidney is very happy you did. And, I’m grateful you are doing better now.

    Comment by Mrs Woodsy — August 26, 2011 @ 1:03 pm |Reply

  2. Excellent information Anne! I’m so glad to be able to see you doing as well as you are – so proud of you and extremely happy for the blessed person who received your kidney. You Go Girl!

    Comment by Jackie — September 1, 2011 @ 6:07 am |Reply

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