Myths About Living Kidney Donation

By Ilana Silver Levine, LMSW and Marian Charlton, RN, CCTC

The purpose of kidney transplantation is to give a healthy kidney to a person who has kidney disease. A successful kidney transplant may prevent the need for dialysis and the complications associated with kidney failure.

For many years, the kidney that was transplanted had to come from a person who had died, from a “deceased donor.” But there are not enough deceased donors for the number of people who need kidney transplants.

Although living donor kidney transplantation is more common, there are still many myths associated with living donor kidney transplantation.

Myth #1: A kidney donor will have to take medications for the rest of their life.

Fact #1: A kidney donor will be given prescriptions for pain medication and stool softeners at discharge from the hospital. These are only for the immediate post-operative period, after that time, a donor does not have to take medication.


Myth #2: A kidney donor will have debilitating pain for an extended period of time.

Fact #2: A kidney donor will have some pain after surgery from both the incisions and related to gas and bloating. This pain will diminish in the days following surgery and can be controlled with pain medication if necessary.


Myth #3: A kidney donor will be on bed rest following surgery.

Fact #3: A kidney donor will be out of bed and walking independently before discharge from the hospital.


Myth #4: A kidney donor will be in the hospital for an extended period of time after surgery.

Fact #4: A kidney donor will be hospitalized for two nights (i.e. if surgery is on a Tuesday, the donor will typically be discharged on Thursday).


Myth #5: A kidney donor can no longer participate in sports or exercise.

Fact #5: A kidney donor should be able to return to regular activities and exercise at approximately 4-6 weeks following surgery.


Myth #6: A kidney donor will have to follow a new diet plan following donation.

Fact #6: A kidney donor should eat a healthy, well balanced diet. There are no dietary restrictions following donation.


Myth #7: A kidney donor can no longer consume alcohol following donation.

Fact #7: While excessive alcohol use is always dangerous, a kidney donor can consume alcohol in moderation.


Myth #8: A female kidney donor should not get pregnant after donation.

Fact #8: A female kidney donor should wait 3-6 months’ time after donation to become pregnant. The body requires time to recover from the surgery and to adjust to living with one kidney prior to pregnancy.


Myth #9: A kidney donor’s sex life will be negatively affected by donation.

Fact #9: A kidney donor may engage in sexual activity when they feel well enough to do so.