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Open Live Donor Nephrectomy


Open live donor nephrectomy is surgery to remove a kidney for transplant to another person. Open surgery is done through 1 incision in your side.

Kidney, Ureters, Bladder


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. The decision to donate a kidney is serious, and you must consider your decision carefully. No one should force or pressure you to donate your kidney. Your surgeon will tell you what will happen before, during, and after surgery in words that you know. You will be told which tests, treatments, or procedures need to be done. Your surgeon will tell you the risks of this surgery. He or she will also tell you the benefits the person receiving your kidney may get. Before you give your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered and that you understand what may happen.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may get anesthesia through your IV. You may breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

  • Your surgeon will make an incision on your side. A small piece of your lowest rib may be cut to help your surgeon see and reach your kidney.
  • Your surgeon will tie, clamp, or cut blood vessels and tissues. He or she will then remove your kidney.
  • The incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room. The bandages used to cover your stitches keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A healthcare provider may remove the bandages to check your wound.

  • Movement will help prevent blood clots. You will be helped to walk around after surgery. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let healthcare providers know you need help.
  • Drains (thin tubes) may be used to remove blood or fluid from around your surgery area.
  • Medicines may be given to relieve or prevent pain, nausea, or a bacterial infection.


You may get an infection, bleed more than expected, or have trouble breathing. Nerves, blood vessels, muscles, intestines, and other organs may be damaged. Your ureter may be damaged and cause urine to leak out into your body. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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