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Open Live Donor Nephrectomy


  • Open live donor nephrectomy (ne-FREK-to-me) is surgery to remove a kidney. The kidney is then placed in another person who has kidney disease or damage. A person who donates (gives) a kidney is called a donor. The person who receives the kidney is called a recipient. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found under the ribs on each side of the upper abdomen. The kidneys remove wastes and other unwanted chemicals from the body. These wastes are flushed out of the body in urine. When kidneys are badly damaged, these wastes build up in a person's body. The waste build-up causes symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, seizures, confusion, fainting, and may even lead to death.
    Urinary System
  • To be a kidney donor, you must be in good health, and between 18 and 70 years old. To be a donor, you must know and understand what can happen to you. You must also have thought carefully about giving your kidney to someone else. Your kidney can replace the damaged kidney, and help the recipients body to get rid of wastes as it should. Being a kidney donor may help the person who is the kidney recipient live longer.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Ask your caregiver when you need to return to have your wound checked, and the stitches and drain removed.


Avoid doing activities that include lifting, pulling, and pushing. Ask your caregiver about other activity guidelines, and when you can get back to doing your usual activities such as sports.


Do not let your stitches get wet unless your caregiver says it is OK. Ask your caregiver when you will be able to bathe, shower, or swim. When you are are able to bathe or shower, carefully wash your stitches with soap and water. Afterwards, put on a clean, new bandage. Change your bandage any time it gets wet or dirty. If you cannot reach the bandage, ask someone else to help you change it. You may have steri-strips (thin strips of tape) on your incision. Keep them clean and dry. As they start to peel off, let them fall off by themselves. Do not pull them off.

Eating and drinking:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat and fish. Eating healthy foods may help you have more energy and heal faster. Ask your caregiver if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Men 19 years old and older should drink about 3.0 Liters of liquid each day (close to 13 eight-ounce cups). Women 19 years old and older should drink about 2.2 Liters of liquid each day (close to 9 eight-ounce cups). Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. If you are used to drinking liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee, these can also be counted in your daily liquid amount. Try to drink enough liquid each day, and not just when you feel thirsty.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.


  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or urinating.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, has pus coming from it, or the stitches have come apart.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.