Donating kidney is certainly one of the noble gestures to save a person suffering from renal disorder. But right before donating kidney one needs to go through essential pre surgery screening as well as testing. While willing to do something good is great, the best decision can be taken after consulting your physician. Also, having some basic information about what to expect when you donate a kidney, the tests, hospital stay and living with it, can help to take an informed decision.
What to Expect During Kidney Donation
First and foremost, you have to be healthy. You must not have any damaging habits when you are thinking about donating your kidney. Your kidneys should be working properly and you should be emotionally and physically prepared for the operation. There is no age limit for kidney donation and maximum altruistic donors must never undergo the urge to meet the recipient of his kidney.
Prior to donation, make sure the medical team you are working with, is experienced and conscious about your well-being, throughout the process. Tests and checks may take months which involve medical, surgical and psychological appraisals. Before donation one should be aware of the recovery period also the health issues which are likely to impede one.
Probable Tests the Kidney Donor Would Undergo
Here are some important tests you can expect when you donate a kidney.
- Urine and blood tests that determine the structure and function of kidneys are essential and vital. Many people are born with a single kidney, in which case it is not possible to be a donor. Ultrasound and other imaging studies can help study the structure of the kidneys. But ultrasound won't be able to determine the functionality of the kidneys, whether they are functioning properly or not.
- Additional tests are performed to make sure that both the kidneys are working properly. These include kidney function tests, blood tests, urine tests and scans. Blood tests determines the levels of urea, which is a waste product and creatinine present in blood. The degree of creatinine existing in blood and the measure of the excretion in the urine determines how well the kidneys are functioning. When kidneys are not functioning properly, they do not remove urea and creatinine, which then build up in the blood and show high levels.
- One more testing mode is glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This generally involves a process where a substance is injected into the vein. As it moves with circulating blood, various blood samples are collected. The test is not that difficult but little time consuming. It exactly reviews the capacity of kidney to clear the substance off blood which was injected earlier.
- There is a special Kidney X ray known as IVU or IVP (intravenous urogram or pyelogram). A special dye is injected into the blood and a sequence of X-rays are taken as the dye passes through the kidneys.
- Maximum donors are seen to go through MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan in order to analyze the size, shape also the position of the blood vessels of both the kidneys. However, these scans would be different from hospital to hospital. The scan report would be offering you three-dimensional pictures of kidney and blood vessels.
- Maximum donors have to undergo a scan only to determine the sound understanding between two kidneys and to rule out the possibility of any injury or scarring. This scan is known as DMSA scan which involves the injection where radionuclear dye is injected which wonderfully lights up the kidney functioning thus permitting the doctors to witness the function of both the kidneys.
- After the position, shape and functioning of the kidneys are determined a decision should be taken regarding which kidney works better. The weaker kidney is usually taken for donation and the stronger one is left for donor as from now then onwards the donor would be thriving on one kidney. But if both the kidneys working on average the potential donor may not be able to donate.
Hospital Stay & Recovery Following Kidney Donation
Now the length of hospital stay and recovery after kidney donation, may differ considerably. It varies with the person's health condition and also depends on the hospital. The rate of recovery and the operating procedure would determine how long the donor has to stay after kidney donation. It is better to ask the transplant center beforehand regarding the period of recovery time.
It is possible that after leaving hospital, the donor would go through tenderness and fatigue, itching and aching as the healing process may generate some insignificant side effects. During this recovery after kidney donation, it is advisable to avoid heavy lifting and heavy work for at least six weeks. Even the donors are told to shun contact sports where kidneys are likely to get injured. So the donor needs to be counseled right before the surgery concerning post operative dos and don'ts.
Health and Life After You Donate a Kidney
With only one kidney, living life is not difficult as long as the donor is evaluated methodically and certified as eligible for donation. After surgery life goes on normally and it is important to follow medical advice. The moment kidney is removed, the single kidney increases in size to compensate.
Some physical exercise is good for you, with only one kidney you must be careful while performing workout moves. It's always better to wear protective gears such as padded vests. Padded vests would save you from injury reducing risk to base. Strenuous exercises, professional sports and adventure sports may be restricted for some, depending on the health condition and recovery. When you have donated a kidney, you must be into good long-term medical follow-up and the primary care giver should provide appropriate advice. You may be advised a urine test, blood pressure test also blood test for kidney function (GFR) every year once at least.
So, when you think about what to expect when you donate a kidney, talking to an expert is a must. Proper counseling, medical advice and psychological preparation can help you face the situation with ease. Donate a kidney and you will have a consistent feel good factor working in you.