Donor Followup and Considerations

Once discharged from the Hospital, you should continue to consult the relevant procedure-specific information provided to you regarding activity levels and other recommendations, but for donor nephrectomy operations, the typical recommendations include maintaining an adequate fluid intake such that you are urinating every 2-3 hours, eating small meals more frequently until your bowels have return back to normal, no straining or lifting anything greater than 10 lbs for 6 weeks or so, and maintaining a good level of activity with lots of walking.

Wounds will appear quite swollen and red at first with some old blood crusted on or around the incisions.  You may notice new lumps or bumps under the skin close to the incisions, but these likely represent the wound closure under the skin and nothing to worry about.   You will have a subcuticular closure, so there will be no skin staples and the sutures are under the skin and will dissolve on their own in about 10-18 weeks time.

You will see your Surgeon approximately 2 weeks after your operation for followup in the clinic.  They will discuss your health status with you to ensure you are traversing the typical course for recovery in kidney donors, and check  your wounds.  Assuming everything is on track, you will have scheduled followup at 3 months and 6 months following the operation and annually on the anniversary of your operation going forward.  It is your decision whether to followup with your Surgeon or your Family Doctor, but usually it’s a good idea to see your Surgeon for the first years followup and then “graduate” to following up with your Family Doc.  At each visit, your health status will be reviewed addressing any particular concerns, blood pressure checks will be done, an examination of the wounds performed and blood and urine testing ordered to monitor your kidney health.

All of your blood and urine testing (as well as Family Doctor notes and BP measurements) are reported back to the Transplant Center for ongoing review, and if anything should change significantly, you will be contacted directly by the Transplant Center to discuss and possibly for appointment.

Keep in mind that many donors may even forget to mention to their kidney donor history when engaging in future surgery or medical intervention.  Providers might also be unaware of the situation if you are unable to tell them in an acute situation (accident, unconscious).  In these situations you might be prescribed medications which are detrimental or contraindicated when you have donated a kidney and thus it might be a good idea to keep a wallet-card with your medical history on it around, or a device such as a medic-alert device to ensure the providers are aware of your solitary kidney status.

For Donors, Recipients and you!