It occurred to me once again the other day that if we ever hope to increase awareness and encourage living donation, we still need to clear up a few misconceptions and teach the basics. Did you know the answers to these true or false questions?
1—You have to be a blood relative to donate your kidney to someone.
2—You can’t lead a normal, healthy life with just one kidney.
3—Kidney donors can’t ever drink alcohol.
4—Living donors have to take medication for the rest of their lives.
5—Living donors need to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist) regularly.
1. False. Though blood relatives have a higher chance of being a good tissue match, unrelated donors are a fast-growing group. And even if you are not a blood-type match, you can donate on behalf of someone in a paired donation–basically a swap.
2. False. Thousands of people are born with just one kidney and are perfectly healthy. When you lose a kidney, the other kidney takes on some of the function of the one that was removed. The result is sufficient to lead a normal life.
3. False. Alcohol is processed through the liver, not the kidneys. Living donors have no particular alcohol-related restrictions other than moderation and being hydrated.
4. False. Living donors who are otherwise healthy have no kidney-specific medications.
5. False. Healthy living donors have no need for specialized kidney care and are simply advised to see their primary care provider to monitor their kidney function and blood pressure annually.
Yup, all false. No doubt there are many more misconceptions about kidney donation. Check out the growing list of FAQs, and if you don’t see an answer to something you’ve heard, please let me know. It too may be a myth.
For related posts, resources, and information on my new book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation, be sure to explore the rest of my website.