There are still many myths about what’s involved in donating a kidney, and here are a few. I first included these in an article in 2017 and have already needed to update a couple of them because many aspects of the process have gotten easier. How many of the questions can you answer correctly?
True or False: The surgeon removes a rib to get to the donor’s kidney.
False: Thanks to minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery (the standard of care), I had two tiny slits and a three-inch bikini incision.
True or False: Donors must be young.
False: More than a third of living kidney donors are over 50. It’s the health of the kidney–plus the donor’s overall health–that counts. I was 58 when I donated mine.
True or False: Donors stay in the hospital for a few weeks.
False: A typical stay is now 1 or 2 days.
True or False: Donors need to miss work for 3 to 6 months.
False: I could have gone back to my sedentary job as an editor in 2 or 3 weeks. A laborer might need a couple of months.
True or False: There’s no turning back.
False: You can change your mind at any point. My transplant nurse coordinator, social worker, psychologist, nephrologist, and transplant surgeon all reassured me that I could. My son would be told only that I had been eliminated.