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Open Live Donor Nephrectomy


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


The week 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.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • You may need to have x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or a renal arteriography. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.
  • Bowel preparation will help clean out your bowel before surgery. Your healthcare provider may ask you to use one or both of the following:
    • An enema uses medicine or warm water that is put into your rectum to help empty your bowel. Ask your healthcare provider how to do this, and follow the directions on the package.
    • A bowel prep medicine is liquid you drink to empty your bowel. Drink 1 eight-ounce cup every 10 minutes until you are passing clear fluid. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about this medicine.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Providers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Bowel preparation:
    • Do not eat or drink anything on the morning of your surgery. Your bowel needs to be empty during your surgery. If you need to take medicines, ask your healthcare provider how much water you can drink to take your medicines.
    • You may need an additional enema the morning of your surgery.
    • You may also be asked to drink an additional 4 to 8 (eight-ounce) cups of bowel prep medicine.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

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 cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.


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.

Care Agreement

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.