5 myths about kidney donation — busted


kidney-donationThere are a number of cases of people either waiting for a kidney donor or receiving one after years of wait. But, while the gesture is one of the most philanthropic one that a person can make, people often shy away from donating based on the fear that their life will be forever changed after they donate. So, in order to set the record straight we spoke to a few experts to find out how the life of a donor is like after they have donated this precious organ. Here are 5 myths about the process — busted!

Myth 1: There are lifelong complications and precautions one has to take after donating their kidney

Fact: Before one donates a kidney, the person undergoes a through medical examination, where every parameter of his/her health is checked. Donation is allowed only after it is found that the person is medically fit to donate his/her kidney and will not face any health hazard later in their life. Thus, there are no precautions as such that one has to take as long as they live.’ A prospective kidney donor goes through many rounds of tests to check for his/her medical parameters and tests to gauge of their blood and tissue typing are in accordance with the recipients. They are tested not only for their all round health but also for significant diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and kidney disease. Considering their lifestyle and long term health is also one of the things a transplant surgeon usually looks into. Therefore the possibility of the donor falling ill after the donation is ruled out at numerous stages.

Myth 2: There are some very drastic lifestyle changes a donor has to make after donation, even the food you eat will change

Fact:  A donor normally has to make no real changes in their diet. They can live normally and eat the same foods they used to eat before.’ As a donor your lifestyle and food habits need not change. Considering the fact that you are already healthy and have very few damaging lifestyle factors before you donate, drastic changes are usually not required.

Myth3: After a kidney donation the patient often spends months in the hospital.

Fact: This is again not true. The donor is administered bed rest for about 3 to 4 days after the operation. Thereafter, staying for 10 days at home, the person gets the stitches removed and then can resume his/her normal life. The only restriction a kidney donor might have to follow is to avoid lifting heavy weights for the first three months, after which he/she is free to get back to their normal life. By heavy weights I mean anything heavier than five kilograms. The donor is free to carry hand bags and other light items.

Myth 4: After donation I will have only one kidney and it can get damaged more easily.

Fact: This is again a myth and is quite contrary to what numerous research studies have found. For instance, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in 2009-2010, where the researchers had assessed 80,000 donors, found that the incidence of dialysis and kidney failure was much lower in people who had donated their kidney when compared to the general population. This was because these people were fit when their kidney was removed and therefore remained healthy. Moreover they were more cautious about their lifestyle helping them stay fitter in the long run.

Myth 5: Kidney donation means a lifetime of regular tests and hospital visits.

Fact: While a donor will be required to undergo some tests periodically, it in no way means that he/she will have to spend a lifetime visiting the hospital. After donation a donor will have to get his or her kidney function tested once in three to six months after the surgery. After that they need not make repeated visits to the hospital. But yes, I would suggest that these donors does keep an eye out for early indicators of high blood pressure and diabetes. Although they do no run a higher risk of suffering from these diseases, but like every other person, for these patients also, prevention is better than cure.’