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Kidney Donation Surgery

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center helped pioneer living kidney donor surgery. Because of this expertise, you can be confident our transplant team will provide excellent care and guidance throughout the entire living kidney donor process.

Kidney Donation Surgery: What to Expect

Before Kidney Donation Surgery

At the Transplant Center, our kidney transplant specialists explain the kidney donation procedure in detail, answering any questions you may have. Our thorough evaluation process ensures the best possible outcomes for donors.

In general, both the donor and the recipient are admitted to the hospital the morning of the surgery. We place the donor and recipient in adjoining operating rooms, allowing our team to complete the transplant faster and more successfully. Learn more about kidney transplant options.

During Kidney Donation Surgery

Shortly before going into surgery, donors receive a mild sedative to help them relax. Our anesthesiology team then administers general anesthesia, keeping patients safe and comfortable. Kidney donation surgery takes around four hours.

Our care team offers two minimally invasive options for donor surgery:

  • Mini-nephrectomy: This approach uses an open technique that surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital developed. For this procedure, a surgeon uses a much smaller incision than was traditionally used to remove the donor’s kidney. The incision is located on your back, between the bottom rib and the hip. We close the small incision with internal stitches that dissolve, shortening your recovery.
  • Laparoscopic donor surgery: In this procedure, a surgeon makes three tiny incisions in the donor’s abdomen. These incisions make room for the surgical tools used to remove the donor kidney. These incisions generally heal quickly.

After Kidney Donation Surgery

After surgery is complete, our living donor patients can expect:

  • A short hospital stay, likely two or three days
  • An easier recovery, likely two to three weeks, thanks to our research-backed recovery protocols that help patients feel better, faster
  • Comprehensive follow-up care, through our donor follow-up clinic

Donating a kidney is a big decision, and it can help to have a good understanding of the recovery process. Learn more about what to expect after kidney donation.

Contact Us

For more information about the living donor kidney program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 855.925.0631.