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How Will My Life Change After Donating a Kidney?

National Kidney Registry

If you are considering becoming a living kidney donor, you may have questions such as:

  • Will I be able to live a normal life after donating a kidney?
  • Will donating a kidney affect my athletic performance?
  • Will I need to change my diet or lifestyle after donating a kidney?
  • Is there anything I won’t be able to do after donating a kidney?

Thousands of people donate a kidney to someone in need every year, and their experiences have given us valuable information about the kidney donation recovery process and what life is like after you donate a kidney. Here are answers to a few of the most common questions:

Can a kidney donor live a normal life after donation?

Yes. Living kidney donors undergo extensive medical screening and testing before being approved as donors, so if you are approved to donate a kidney you are generally in excellent health. After the recovery period, you should be able to resume your normal activities. You will not need to take any ongoing medications or make any major changes to your diet or lifestyle.

How long will it take me to recover from kidney donation surgery?

The recovery time after living kidney donation surgery will vary depending on the person. Typically, a living kidney donor will need between two and six weeks of recovery time before returning to work—possibly longer if the donor’s job requires heavy lifting.

I am an athlete. Will donating a kidney affect my physical performance?

You should be able to resume normal physical activities starting at four to six weeks after kidney donation surgery. You will need more time to achieve peak fitness levels. Some competitive athletes who have donated a kidney say it took six to twelve months before they could achieve peak performance levels. However, once their recovery is complete, many athletes have surpassed their previous peak performance levels.

If you have more questions about living kidney donation, please visit the For Donors section of the National Kidney Registry website.

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