If you want to be a living donor, you will need to have a medical exam with blood tests to be sure you are healthy enough to donate a kidney. Some of the tests needed may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Pap smear/ gynecological exam
  • Colonoscopy (if over age 50)
  • Screening tests for cancer
  • Antibody test
  • X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) which looks at your heart
  • Other image testing like a CT scan

You are also required to meet with a psychologist and an Independent Living Donor Advocate to be sure you are mentally and emotionally ready to donate one of your kidneys.

If you are found to be healthy, and your antibodies and blood type are well-matched to the person getting your kidney, you may be approved to donate your kidney. 

The surgery

Most kidney transplant surgeries are done laparoscopically . A laparoscopic surgery is a new surgery method that uses very small cuts on the body and a thin lighted tube to look inside the body. In a laparoscopic kidney donor surgery, the surgeon makes small cuts on the donor’s stomach, and the kidney is removed through an incision just big enough for it to fit through. This operation takes 2-3 hours, and a kidney donor usually spends 1-3 days in the hospital recovering. The recovery period after laparoscopic surgery is much shorter than after a traditional open surgery. There are also fewer complications with laparoscopic surgery.

Before the use of laparoscopic surgery, the kidney was removed from a larger, open cut, causing a longer recovery period for the patient, compared to the laparoscopic method.