For the media

9 living kidney donation myths, debunked

By The Health News Team | March 29, 2024
Illustration of kidneys and flowers

There are nearly 100,000 Americans who require a kidney transplant, but the number of deceased donor kidneys falls short of the demand. Waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor can take years, during which the recipient's health and quality of life may deteriorate.

Living kidney donation offers hope to those in need of a kidney transplant. It’s a faster solution that can significantly enhance the recipient's quality of life. Christine Brenner, lead clinical nurse for the Sharp HealthCare Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, dispels common myths surrounding living kidney donation.


I have to follow a new diet after I donate a kidney.

Fact: Many people believe that kidney donors must follow a strict diet after the donation procedure. However, this is not true. Just like anyone else, kidney donors should maintain a healthy and balanced diet, but there are no specific dietary restrictions they must follow post-donation. Donors can continue enjoying their usual dietary habits and preferences without changing them.


I won't live a long, healthy life if I donate a kidney.

Fact: Many people are hesitant to become kidney donors due to concerns about their life expectancy. However, research has found that kidney donation does not significantly impact an individual's lifespan. With advancements in medical technology, donors can lead healthy and normal lives with just one functioning kidney.


I will have to take medications for the rest of my life if I donate a kidney.

Fact: Donating an organ does not burden donors with a lifetime of medication management. Living donors will be provided with pain medications after their surgery. However, there is no long-term medication requirement. Donors can resume their normal lives once their body has completely healed without additional medications.


I can't have a baby if I donate a kidney.

Fact: Female donors who have undergone kidney donation surgery should wait six months to a year before attempting to conceive. This waiting period is necessary to ensure that the body has fully recovered from the surgery and has adapted to having only one kidney. Once the recovery period is complete, the donor can proceed with family planning without any adverse effects on their fertility or pregnancy outcomes. It is important to follow this waiting period to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.


I can't exercise or play sports if I donate a kidney.

Fact: Donating a kidney does not require giving up an active lifestyle. Typically, kidney donors can resume their regular activities, such as exercise and sports, within four to six weeks after surgery. It’s important to adhere to the advice of health care professionals and gradually return to physical activity to ensure a smooth recovery.


I'm too old to be a living donor.

Fact: Becoming a kidney donor is not limited by age. Generally, the minimum age requirement is between 18 to 25 years, depending on the transplant center. However, there is no maximum age limit for living kidney donation. The suitability of each potential donor will be evaluated individually to ensure they are suitable for the procedure.


Someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ can't be a donor.

Fact: People who identify as LGBTQ+ are encouraged to register their decision to be organ donors, just like anyone else. Everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the potential to save lives through donation.


Registering as an organ donor changes my own care.

Fact: It’s important to understand that registering as an organ donor does not impact an individual's health care quality or priority. Health care providers are dedicated to saving and preserving every patient's life, regardless of their organ donor status. Deciding to register as an organ donor is a personal choice that has no bearing on the level of care received.


My religion doesn't support organ donation.

Fact: Organ donation is a compassionate and generous act widely supported by major religions. This selfless and noble act can improve and save lives and is viewed positively by many religious communities. If considering donation, it’s recommended you consult with your religious leaders to understand the specific beliefs and practices related to donation within your faith.

Learn more about making informed decisions and potentially saving lives through the gift of living donation.


Christine Brenner


Christine Brenner is the lead clinical nurse for the Sharp HealthCare Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program.

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