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Life After Kidney Donation: What Follow-Ups Are Required After Kidney Donation Surgery?

Karen Miller, RN, NKR Operations Committee Chair

Kidney donation surgery is major surgery, and like any major medical procedure, it requires follow-ups. If you are planning to become a living kidney donor, these are the follow-ups you can expect.

Two weeks after donation surgery: While transplant centers vary in the frequency of follow-ups as well as how they are conducted (in person, over the phone or via video), the two-week post-surgery in-person checkup is required for every living kidney donor. You will have an appointment at the transplant center where your surgery was performed to make sure your incision is healing properly and that you are doing well. A blood and/or urine sample may also be taken.

Three months and six months post-donation: Some centers may ask for more frequent check-ins, but three-month and six-month follow-ups are the minimum required by law. These follow-ups include blood and urine tests for creatinine and eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate), which measure how well your remaining kidney is working. In most cases, you will not be required to return to the transplant center. Instead, you can have testing done at a local lab and the lab will send the results to the center. Once the transplant center receives the results, it will schedule a phone consultation with you to go over the results and address any issues.

One year and two years post-donation: Transplant centers are legally required to follow living donors for two years. Much like the three- and six-month check-ins, the required one-year and two-year follow-ups will include blood and urine tests to ensure the remaining kidney is working as expected.

Living kidney donors should also see their primary care physicians to monitor other aspects of their health that may affect their kidneys, including blood pressure, weight, and any signs of kidney-affecting diseases or conditions such as diabetes or kidney stones.

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