Donating a kidney does not have any effect on a person's life expectancy. In fact, studies have shown that people who donate a kidney outlive the average population. Twenty years after the donation, 85 percent of kidney donors were still alive, while the expected survival rate was 66 percent. This could be because only healthy people are approved to be donors, or perhaps donors take extra health precautions after donating a kidney.
The long-term survival rate after kidney donation is approximately the same as that of generally healthy people who are not kidney donors. It is important to have regular medical checkups after donating a kidney, including kidney function tests and blood pressure checks. There is no evidence that a living donation shortens the lifespan. Many kidney donors live normal lives after kidney donation and the donation does not affect the function or survival of the remaining kidney.
In fact, the remaining kidney can increase its capacity by an average of 22.4%. Advances in surgical techniques have drastically improved the cosmetic outcome following live kidney donation and you also increase the likelihood of a successful transplant because survival rates are higher when the kidney transplant comes from a living donor. Kidney donors typically experience a 20 to 30 percent decrease in kidney function (measured by glomerular filtration rate) after donation. The National Kidney Registry reports that in the United States, there are only three deaths out of every 10,000 transplants from living donors (mortality rate of 0.03 percent).
Living kidney donors are carefully evaluated to ensure they are healthy before a living donation can be made. In addition, you help another patient on the waiting list because your donation leaves the recipient's place vacant on the list for the next person when a deceased donor's kidney is available. The objective of this study was to examine survival and causes of death in kidney donors and to evaluate the kidney function of those who had donated a kidney more than 20 years ago. People who are considering becoming a kidney donor should carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits of donating a kidney.
Better survival among donors is likely due to the fact that only healthy people are accepted for live kidney donation. The study uses tests from more than 15 years of follow-up in real living kidney donors and healthy controls. The study showed that between 1 and 5% of current average age living kidney donors could develop ESRD as a result of nephrectomy. Knowing the long-term risks associated with kidney donation is important for potential donors and their providers.