Living Donor Recovery and Follow-up

How long will it take to recover from surgery?

The recovery time following robotic or standard laparoscopic donor surgery is generally about four weeks. The minimum amount of time you should allow yourself to recover is four to six weeks. Because people recover at different rates, with varying degrees of fatigue and pain, you may need as long as eight to 12 weeks leave from work. We prefer that you allow enough time away from work to fully recover.

Will I be entitled to disability pay?

If your job provides disability coverage, you may be entitled to disability pay.

Will I need to return to the hospital for check-ups?

In order to ensure your recovery is progressing normally, it is important that you are closely monitored. You must return for a check-up about a week after you leave the hospital and you will need another check-up at four to six weeks. Your physician will discuss your long-term care plan, which normally includes annual exams that can be completed with a physician in your area.

You should remain close to Aurora St.Luke’s Medical Center or similar facility for at least two to three weeks after surgery and return to the hospital if you experience any problems during your recovery. We recommend that you have a relative or friend stay with you, especially immediately after you leave the hospital.

As part of our federal requirements as a Transplant Center and to ensure your long-term safety, we are required to submit follow up information on all living donors at six months, one year, and two years. This information typically involves lab tests and a physician exam.

Will I require special medications or care at home after the surgery?

You will not need any medications except for some pain medication. If you develop a wound infection, you might be prescribed antibiotics. You should not need any medications specifically related to kidney donation in the long term.

Although you will be tired and weak, you should not need any professional nursing care at home. You will need a friend or family member to help with food shopping, perhaps cook your meals, provide assistance if have any difficulties and take you to and from the Transplant Clinic at Aurora St. Luke’s for your check-ups.

Will I have a scar?

In most cases, the incision heals quickly, leaving a scar that fades over time but will always be visible. If a wound infection develops, you may be left with a wider scar. Occasionally, patients develop what is called a keloid, the over-growing or over-healing of the skin that results in a raised scar.

When can I resume normal activities?

We expect most patients will return to normal activities within four to six weeks after surgery.

You will be given specific instructions and steps you can take to aid recovery as you build strength and stamina. Certain restrictions such as lifting and driving will be discussed individually and will depend on medications you are taking and your personal level of discomfort.

We recommend you don’t plan any trips outside the United States for at least four weeks and preferably eight to 12 weeks after surgery. If you wish to return to your home in the United States and you have a good local doctor, you may be able to do so within two weeks after the surgery, depending on how you feel and how you’re recovering.

If you have any concerns about possible complications, please return to St.  Luke’s Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.

Please read this information carefully and discuss living donor kidney transplant with your family and loved ones. If you have further questions, please call the St.Luke’s Transplant Center and speak with the Living Donor Coordinator.

Will I have a normal life after surgery?

You can live a normal life with only one kidney. When a kidney is removed, your other kidney will increase in size to compensate for the donated kidney. Following recovery, you will be able to work, drive, exercise and participate in sports, although some contact sports are not recommended. We advise women to wait a minimum of three months after surgery to resume birth control pills and at least six months after surgery before becoming pregnant.