More than 95,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney transplant right now, and most will wait an average of five to 10 years for a viable kidney from a deceased donor.
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"They are up and walking, and eating and drinking the day after the surgery," says Dr. Prieto, who performs multiple kidney transplants a week. "The pain usually is well-controlled, and they just will have a little scar left in their belly. But, otherwise, they should have a good recovery."
Dr. Prieto says surgeons have been performing living kidney transplants for more than 50 years, and the risks for complications or future kidney problems are lower than most people think.
"Kidney donation does not increase your chances of having kidney failure really, and if you end up having that, which is a low, low chance, you will have some benefits from having been a donor," he says.
Dr. Prieto says potential donors go through extensive screening before donating. If surgeons see any potential risk for potential donors, they are not allowed to donate their kidney.
Overall, he says, kidney donation is a fairly safe way to save a life.
"We would not be doing this if we were seeing people – healthy people – getting hurt by donating a kidney," Dr. Prieto says. "We feel very confident that kidney donation is safe, that people feel good about being able to help somebody else. And, of course, we benefit a tremendous amount of patients that need a kidney transplant."