Living Donor Kidney Transplant Surgery
Sentara’s Transplant Center has been performing kidney transplants since 1972. In most cases, we use laparoscopic surgical methods, which are minimally invasive and can help you recover faster. Your kidney donation will be done by one of our highly trained surgeons. Our medical team will closely oversee your treatment before, during and as you recover from kidney donor surgery.
Living Donor Kidney Surgery: Top-Quality Care at Sentara
Once all of your tests and medical evaluations are done and you are cleared as a kidney donor, we will schedule a surgery date that is convenient for you—and for your recipient, too, if it is someone you know. You may wait for several weeks for your surgery, depending on how many other procedures have already been scheduled.
Our advanced facilities and dedicated transplant team make it easy to choose Sentara for your donor surgery. We offer:
- Experience: Sentara is one of the most active kidney transplant centers in Virginia. We routinely perform 60-70 kidney transplants every year—of which more than half are from living donors like you.
- In-depth screening & testing: We do a thorough medical evaluation to be sure you are healthy enough to donate a kidney, and that your recipient will receive the healthiest possible organ.
- Minimally invasive methods: In most cases, we use a laparoscopic surgical method to remove your kidney. Your surgeon makes 3-4 small incisions in your abdomen. This minimally invasive surgical approach helps you recover faster with less pain and discomfort.
- Meticulous follow-up care: You will work with a dedicated team of kidney transplant specialists who treat your recovery and healing as their top priority. Our goal is for you to return to doing the things you love as quickly as possible.
Preparing for Kidney Donor Transplant Surgery
A few things to know about preparing for your procedure:
- Blood tests: You will need to come into a Sentara facility for preoperative blood testing a few days before your surgery. These tests are to ensure that your health status has not changed.
- Cross-match test: We will repeat this test with your blood and your recipient’s blood (you took this test at least once before) to be certain you are both still compatible for the kidney transplant.
- Dietary restrictions: Your transplant coordinator will remind you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before surgery. You will be admitted to Sentara’s Norfolk General Hospital the morning of your scheduled surgery. The transplant coordinator will keep you updated about any final details.
Kidney Donor Transplant Surgery: What You Need to Know
Your transplant urologist will use one of two types of surgical procedures to remove your donated kidney: minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery or open nephrectomy surgery. The particular anatomy of your kidneys determines which type of surgery will work best. Your transplant urologist will decide during your office visit which procedure to use and will explain the process to you in detail.
For both procedures, you will be under general anesthesia, which means you will be “asleep” during the 4-6 hour operation and will feel no pain.
- Minimally invasive laparoscopic method: In most cases, we can use this procedure, which requires 3-4 small, puncture incisions on the abdomen to insert a miniature camera and surgical instruments. In addition, the surgeon makes a 4-inch incision in your lower abdomen in order to remove your kidney. Laparoscopic surgery generally causes very few after-surgery side effects.
- Open nephrectomy surgery: This procedure involves your surgeon removing your kidney through a 6-8-inch incision on your upper abdomen and side.
After Kidney Donor Transplant Surgery: Recovery and Follow-up Care
You will stay in the recovery room for several hours so our medical team can closely observe you while you recover from being under anesthesia.
- Hospital stay: Plan to be in the hospital 3-5 days. You will be cared for in a section of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital that specializes in working with patients who have had recent surgery.
- Side effects: As with all major surgical procedures, you will feel some pain afterward. Your post-surgical team will help control that with medications. You may also have some nausea or vomiting and bloating.
- Possible complications: These may include infection, bleeding, pneumonia, blood clots or allergic reactions to medications. However, all of these complications are rare and are possible with any major operation, not just a kidney donation. It is unlikely that you will need a blood transfusion during or after kidney donation surgery.
- After you leave the hospital: The healing process from kidney donation surgery is a gradual one and it is a bit different for everyone. Most patients can return to their normal activities in 3-6 weeks.
- Medical follow-up: About 4 weeks after surgery, you will go in for a follow-up exam with the urologist who performed your surgery. You will have another appointment after 6 months. Once you pass the 6-month mark, we recommend seeing your regular physician.