Postoperative Recovery

The day after the operation is Postoperative Day #1, and although it is difficult to get a good night’s sleep in the Hospital because of the unfamiliar bed and periodic nursing checks, it is hoped you will be rested enough to test yourself a little bit today.  The urethral catheter will be removed. The intravenous lines will be capped off, and food will be served.  Bloodwork is part of daily life in the Hospital, and some will be drawn daily in order to monitor your residual kidney health and function.  Nursing and Physiotherapy staff will assist you to mobilize and get washed up and then you will be encouraged to increase your intake of fluids and mobilize yourself as much as possible through the course of the day. If you know the recipient to whom you donated the kidney, you might go to visit them at this time.

By the nighttime, you will be rather sore from moving around so much, and perhaps quite tired as well.  It is normal to have aches and pains for a period of up to 3 months or more after an operation such as this, and low energy is also quoted as being prevalent up to a year after donor surgery.  The next days are similar to this one, with more mobilizing until you are comfortable enough to be discharged in order to continue your recuperation and recovery on your own.  Most donors who have Minimally Invasive Surgery will go home two days after the operation, those who have an open operation will stay a bit longer.

A typical schedule in Hospital might look like this:

    • 0630h surgical team reviews your latest tests and visits with you to discuss your progress
    • 0700h nursing handover and nurses come to perform routine checks
    • 0800h breakfast
    • 1000h physiotherapy
    • 1200h lunch
    • 1300h physiotherapy / testing
    • 1500h nursing handover and nurses come to perform routine checks
    • 1800h surgical team reviews your latest test results and comes to discuss your progress with you
    • 1800h dinner
    • 2000h physiotherapy / free time
    • 2200h sleep

The foley catheter in the bladder will be removed on postoperative day number 1 and you will be offered food and fluids starting the morning after your surgery if you feel well enough to sample it.  It is common to have some residual nausea and no appetite after a major operation for several days.

When you are discharged, you will be given a prescription for pain medication, and instructions not to strain your abdominal muscles too much, including not lifting anything heavier than 10lbs for 6 weeks minimum.  This to allow the strength layer of the abdominal wall to heal properly.

You may find that your urination will return to normal long before your bowels do.  This is because your bowels are made up of different segments, all of which “wake up” at different times after an operation and even after they do resume functioning, they still need extra time to coordinate themselves with each other segment in order to drive food, water and gas in a single direction from mouth to anus.  In the meantime while things are normalizing, you will notice some abdominal bloating and discomfort and sporadic bouts of passing gas and changes in bowel movement frequency and consistency.  This can take from 5  to 10 days after the operation to become more normal for you, and is a typical course in postoperative recovery.

When you discharged, a followup appointment will be made for you to see your Surgeon in followup clinic in approximately 2 weeks time.  Contact information, and emergency instructions will also be discussed with you at that time.

For Donors, Recipients and you!