Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tips for Living Kidney Donors (In No Particular Order)

1. Patience – Be patient with yourself! Everyone heals at their own pace. It can be frustrating and depressing to not feel 100% after surgery but it will get a little better every day. Instead of thinking about all the things you can't do yet, take comfort in the progress you have made.

2. You Are What You Eat! – Eat healthy foods that will give you energy and help your body heal. Small meals spread throughout the day will help you feel less bloated. 

3. Slip On Shoes – After surgery you probably won’t want to bend over to tie shoe laces or pull a pair of tight shoes on. Make sure you have slippers for the hospital that you won’t miss when you leave (because you probably won’t want anything that touched the floor of a hospital in your house), and comfortable slip-ons for when you get home.

4. Ask for Help – It’s hard to learn when to ask for help, but after surgery this is a lesson you will learn very quickly. You will need help with everything … and I mean everything. Even reaching for something can be very painful if you reach too far. When in doubt - ask for help. Even if it’s just moral support, or you need a hug.

5. Walk Walk Walk – I can’t stress this enough. Walking is your new best friend. It is hard to do but it will help your recovery so much. Get up as soon as you can, and walk as much as you can. Your body will thank you for it!

6. Drink Drink Drink – Another thing I can’t stress enough. Drink every chance you get. Warm water or tea … no cold water! It helps your one remaining kidney do its job better, and gets your insides working properly again. Yes – you will have to pee a lot. But guess what? You get up and walk when you pee! Drinking helps you walk, and walking helps you heal faster!

7. Don’t Overdo It – Know your limits. Don’t push your body to the point where you might hurt yourself. Listen to the signals your body is giving you. If you’re tired, sleep. If you are in pain, rest for a while. The ability to listen to yourself is one of the best skills you can have in this process.

8. Get Fit – Be at your finest before surgery. The fitter you are the easier it will make your recovery. 

9. Comfy Pants – Make sure you have a lot of loose pants for post-surgery relaxing. Even 6-8 weeks after surgery I still couldn’t wear jeans for very long without getting uncomfortable. Buy some jogging pants or loose pajama pants that are a couple of sizes too big. There is a lot of bloating after surgery and you will want to be as comfortable as possible. Ever notice no one is wearing pants while they're in the hospital? There’s a reason they have those gowns … they’re comfy!

10. Pets – Pets can be wonderful, and a great source of comfort during the healing process BUT if you have a “lap dog”, or a dog that likes to jump up on you, it might be a good idea to consider having someone look after them while you are healing. Even feeding your pets can be a difficult task for the first few weeks. Bending down to fill a food or water dish, or taking Rover for a walk are going to be out of the question for a little while.  If you have any pets (including cats – changing kitty litter is pretty much impossible post-surgery!) arranging for help is important. 



  1. I just wanted to send a quick thank you to you and Jackie. I have been considering doing the same thing for my (hopefully) upcoming transplant to my sister. It honestly helps so much!


    1. Thanks so much for your comment Colleen! I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear that this blog has helped you. You are so brave and generous for offering to donate to your sister! If you ever have questions, or if you need someone to talk to feel free to message me anytime!

  2. Just wanted to say I think it's extremely cool that you made a living donation. I've considered it before, but don't know if I will. Your blog and photos were really informative! People considering this type of surgery need information like you have made available. Thanks again! You're awesome!

    1. Thank you so much!! It's always so nice to hear from people who have taken the time to look at this page. You are awesome too for even considering donating. It's a lot more than most people do, so you should be proud :)

    2. I donated my kidney Last Monday so my Mother could receive one. Reading your blog has really helped and embrace me.

  3. Hi Laura!

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. You and Jackie really helped me to know what to expect. I didn't realize that bellies would need stretching, but now that you mention it, it is obvious, isn't it?

    I think that it will be easier for me, because I am willing to get a vertical incision, and I'm happy to show the scar. I suspect that the horizontal incision made it hard for your belly, when you tried to have good posture.

    I've all ready announced my intent on Facebook, but I haven't started blogging about it yet. I'll start, when I have to visit somebody official, like a transplant team or an interviewer. Also, I've all ready sent in my application, and I've had my first blood work.

    I'm grateful that the blood clinic is so close that I can walk to it. The transplant hospital [i.e.: St. Paul's in Vancouver] is so close that I expect that I can use transit to and from.

    We'll see what happens.

    [a.k.a. Hosiery Advocate]

    1. Hi Eugene :)

      Sorry for the delayed reply! I would love to read your blog once you start sharing your experience. If you'd like, you could send me a link, and I could share it on my blog ... so others could benefit from it as well. Information is so helpful when you're going through the donation process.

      You can email me at kidneystory at gmail.com

      Hope to hear from you soon :)

      Laura P

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am donating to my mom in early December and as much information as the transplant team gives you there's such simple info here I never thought about-I need to get slippers and comfy pants/dresses! Makes perfect sense but hadn't crossed my mind. It's a bit scary to read a true account like yours or Jackies but it's also comforting and more knowledge than I've received from the nurses or social workers! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thank you so much Natasha! I'm so glad I could help :)

      I think the nurses and social workers may worry that they will overwhelm you by giving you too much information, but for some of us who are "information people" we just want to know EVERYTHING. Good or bad. Even when it's scary it can be comforting just to know. I was the exact same way!

      I will be thinking of you in December!!

  5. How many days will I definitely need to arrange for pet care? at a minimum?

    1. Hi Lak!

      Sorry for the delayed reply! It's hard to give a specific amount of time. I would say at a minimum 2-3 weeks, then perhaps that could be extended if you needed more time.

      Hope that helps :)

  6. Thanks for keeping this blog! It's so helpful. I'm donating to my dad next month and some of your tips are super valuable. For instance, I do not own a pair of comfy pants, so I'm off to the store to get some. I also got me some slippers. Thanks for the tip!

    1. No problem! You're gonna love comfy pants soooo much!!

      Wishing you a speedy recovery!


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