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Living Kidney Donor Surgery Guide

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​​​​ In this Guide

​​​​​​​​​As a living kidney donor, we encourage you to ask questions about the donation process. Our guide offers the answers you're looking for, and helps you prepare for your operation.


About the Operation

Once your kidney donor evaluation​ is complete and the donor team clears you to donate, the operations for you and the recipient will be scheduled. You will have an appointment with the surgeon usually one week before your operation. During this appointment, you and the surgeon will talk about the type of kidney operation you will have.

There are two types of operations:

  1. Modified Traditional Mini-Incision

    A 4-inch incision (cut) is made on your side, about 2 inches back from the tip of the 11th rib and extending 2 inches forward, toward the front of the abdomen.

    Depending on the blood supply of your kidneys, either the right or left kidney is removed along with all its blood vessels and its ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder).

    Your remaining kidney will then begin to take on some of the work that was previously performed by both kidneys.  

    Staples are used to close the incision; they will be removed 7 to 10 days after the surgery and we suggest that your family doctor removes these staples.

    This operation lasts about 1 1/2 hours and the hospital stay is usually 3 to 5 days.​

    Modified traditional mini incision
  2. Laparoscopic Nephrectomy

    Three or four small, 1/2 inch incisions are made in the upper left part of the abdomen, to allow access for a small camera and operating instruments.

    An incision about 4 inches in length is made in the lower abdomen, and the kidney is carefully removed.  A television screen is used to monitor the surgery.​

    Sutures are used to close the incisions and the skin is closed with Steri-Strips. This operation takes about 3 1/2 hours to complete and the hospital stay is usually 3 –​ 5 days.

    Image of Laparoscopic nephrectomy surgery

    Read our guide below to learn more about your kidney donor surgery, or click on the topic that matters most to you. If you have questions or need more information, talk to our transplant assessment coordinator.​