Before donating an organ, serious thought should be given to the future consequences of a donor’s overall health and welfare. Studies do not indicate a significant long-term risk to the donor. Still, donation should not be taken lightly. There may be a slightly higher risk of developing high blood pressure. This usually occurs in donors over 55 years of age at the time of donation. There is also a very small risk of developing kidney failure. This is usually related to the development of kidney disease that was not present or anticipated at the time of the donation and not directly related to the kidney donation itself.
Many women have had normal pregnancies following donation and there is minimal risk to the mother and the baby. Additional monitoring may be advised by the OB/GYN physician.
Effect on your future health
If you donate a kidney, hospital staff must tell you about how living kidney donation relates to ongoing or chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. Your Independent Living Donor Advocate as well as the living donor nephrologist should help you understand these terms.
If you are thinking about donating a kidney, you should know that:
- On average, you will permanently lose 25-35% of your kidney function after donating.
- Your risk of having kidney failure later in your life is not any higher that it is for someone in the general population of a similar age, sex or race. However, you are more likely to have kidney failure than healthy people who are not donors.
- Chronic kidney disease most often starts in the middle of your life (40-50 years old). Kidney failure most often starts after age 60. If you get tested when you are young, doctors cannot predict how likely you are to have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure later in life.
- If you damage your other kidney (the one you did not donate), you may have a higher chance of having chronic kidney disease, which could go on to become kidney failure.
- You will need medical treatment if you start to have kidney failure.
Current policy gives living donors priority on the national waiting list if they need to get a kidney transplant in the future. You can ask your Independent Living Donor Advocate or /Living Donor Coordinators about this policy.