Laparoscopic nephrectomy is the less invasive option that has recently become the most common method for removing a donor kidney. This technique, which is far less demanding on the donor than the traditional method, has been in use at UCLA since 1999 and is now performed in the vast majority of donor surgeries. Three or four tiny incisions are made in the abdominal wall. Instruments and a camera are inserted through these incisions. The camera enables the surgeon to direct the instruments and remove the kidney. An incision about three to four inches long is made below the navel through which the kidney is removed. Removing the kidney this way means a hospital stay of one to two days, little pain and discomfort, and a return to normal activity within two to three weeks.
The “open” procedure is the traditional method. This operation requires a seven to eight inch incision around the donor’s flank to allow the surgeon access to the kidney, blood vessels, and ureter. Hospital stay and recovery are longer. Some people have experienced a weakness in the body wall around the area of the incision and there is more postoperative pain related to this procedure.