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Open Live Donor Nephrectomy


Open live donor nephrectomy is surgery to remove a kidney for transplant to another person.


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 healthcare provider will tell you what will happen before, during, and after surgery in words that you know. You will be told what tests, treatments, or procedures need to be done. Your healthcare provider will tell you the risks of this surgery. He will also tell you what 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 enema may be needed before your surgery. This is liquid put into your rectum to help empty it.
  • 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 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.

  • You may need to walk around the same day of surgery , or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. 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.
  • You will be able to eat and drink gradually after surgery. You will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • Drains are thin tubes used to drain fluid from around your incision. The drains are taken out when the incision stops draining.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection.
    • Antinausea medicine calms your stomach and prevents vomiting.
    • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


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 get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.


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

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