The Decision to Donate a Kidney

Thoughts, feelings, and concerns

Donating a kidney is no small matter. The decision to donate a kidney is a significant step that affects the donor and his family in a number of different ways, and must therefore be made only after very careful consideration.

Having made the decision to donate a kidney, the donor undergoes extensive testing to assess his suitability as a donor and to ensure that his donation will be of the required quality. The tests are intended to make sure that the donor is healthy enough to donate a kidney without compromising his quality of life and health in the long run, i.e. in old age. The donor must be aware that testing may take several months, and be prepared for such a process.

The surgery itself is followed by a hospital stay, and then begins a period of recuperation, during which his physical capabilities are limited regarding home and work activities. Even when his sick leave is over, the donor must curtail strenuous physical activity, and this limitation may last several weeks, depending on his age and recovery rate.

However, the tremendous feeling of satisfaction at having granted life to another human being helps the donor endure the recuperation process.

The donor must arrive at the decision to donate a kidney of his own free will, after having received all the information necessary to make an informed decision, with no pressure whatsoever from any other party. In addition, the decision must enjoy the full backing of the donor’s spouse. It is highly inadvisable to do something as significant and sensitive as donating a kidney if your spouse opposes the move. Parental support is also a source of support, but an adult donor does not need to make his donation conditional upon his parents’ support. Support from family and friends is needed during the period leading up to surgery, but is vital after the donation to ensure full physical and emotional recuperation.

Donating a kidney is always accompanied by fears and concerns. This is totally understandable and logical in view of the fact that the donor –– a healthy individual –– is, of his own free will, about to enter an operating theater and part from one of his body organs. We believe that knowledge is the best way to cope with these fears. Donating a kidney is a relatively safe procedure; the more you know about it, the less you fear it. We strongly recommend that anyone considering a kidney donation should read up on the subject, and learn about the process, the risks, and the ramifications. It is also worthwhile to speak to someone who has already undergone the process.

However, all the difficulties and fears are offset by the incomparably inspiring feeling that a donor experiences after the donation.

Who can be a donor? The donor’s health

An altruistic donor must be at least 25 years old, and be a healthy individual who does not suffer from very high blood pressure or diabetes, is not overweight, and has no background of renal issues. It is preferable for women to have given birth already.

A person who wishes to donate a kidney undergoes a long, comprehensive series of medical tests to ascertain that the donation will not harm his health and his quality of life even in the long range. It is important to ensure that the donor is particularly healthy according to all criteria, and that he does not have even minor health issues, issues that may not currently be considered illnesses but may develop in the course of time, especially as a result of a kidney donation. Some people who have been rejected as kidney donors may be totally healthy, but a kidney donation may endanger or harm their health.

The main criteria pertinent to a kidney donation are good general health and sound kidney functioning. Special attention is paid to diabetes and high blood pressure, the two principal causes of kidney complaints. The hospital must ensure that the donor does not belong to either of these risk groups.

When you apply to donate a kidney, you will be asked to perform some preliminary tests to ascertain whether you are healthy. If you meet the basic criteria, you will be referred for comprehensive testing that will include a tissue typing test, a psychological assessment, and additional physical tests, all aimed at safeguarding your health and wellbeing to the fullest extent. Here you will found detailed information about these tests.