Dispelling Myths about Living Kidney Donations
Despite substantial medical advances and public awareness campaigns on the benefits and importance of kidney transplants, the gap between donor supply and transplant demand continues to increase. This is partly due to myths about living kidney donations. Potential donors and recipients alike continue to have misconceptions around factors of the donation process—including post-operative pain, recuperation, diet, lifespan and ability to return to work and physical activity—that can hinder living kidney donation. According to the National Kidney Foundation, most studies have shown that individuals can live normal, healthy lives after donating a kidney. In my own experience treating these patients, I have repeatedly been told that the intrinsic joy that donors receive from helping greatly improve another person’s life far outweigh the temporary pain and inconvenience of the surgery itself.
As healthcare professionals, it is our duty to educate our patients and the community on the relative safety and risks of kidney donation for living donors. For inspiration to pass along to your patients and their families, read this story about a 30-year-old athlete who successfully received a kidney donation from his triathlete mother last year. Within four weeks post-surgery, his mother was swimming and running, and is now training for an Ironman triathlon. Her biggest piece of advice to others considering a donation is to ignore the misconceptions they may hear about the physical impact on the donor.