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Down time after transplant for both recipient and donor

I haven't done all the legwork yet as far as getting the kidney transplant set in motion.  I was thinking of a cadaver donation but I was told that the best match would be a family member.  Sister, son, daughter ... a kidney from one of them.  Long story short:  My family chose to disassociate themselves from me several years ago.  After 12 years, my youngest son and I are reaffirming our relationship.  I've told him (generally) about me getting a transplant.  I'm not sure if I can ask him to get tested at this juncture in time.  What I want to know is about the downtime for each of us.  I don't work but he does.  He loves his job, but it's very regimented.  There is no sick pay.  If he were bedridden or incapacitated in some way after the op a minimum of a week, he would not get paid.  So, what kind of downtime are we talking about?

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  • I have had both a nephrectomy and a transplant.  The nephrectomy was BY FAR the worst, but I was back at work part time in a week.  I only worked 4 hours a day, until my back started hurting where the kidney had been removed.  (they went in thru my right side in order to preserve the peritoneal membrane for dialysis)  That lasted about 3 weeks and then I moved up to 6 hours a day.  I just judged my time by when my back began to hurt.  Your donor might look into disability insurance.  My sister had a live donor who was a teacher with such insurance, and they paid her salary for 2 months after donation!  Otherwise, do you have insurance which would subsidize the donor?

    On the flip side, receiving a kidney was easy-peasy!  I was out of the hospital on the 3rd day and I had so much energy I was unstoppable!  I had no pain from the surgery.  The nurses said that was common with the surgeon I was fortunate to have!  

    Just FYI, the wait time for a cadaver kidney depends on your blood type.  I am O+ and I waited 5+ years.  My brother is A+ and he waited less than 6 months.  My kidney is a zero match, but my doc said they don't even look at that.  All they look at is blood type.  If it's a better match they may use less immunosuppressants, but you still need to take them!

    • Thank you for your reply, Anna.

      I am A+ as is your brother.  Now, Dad was O+ and when times got rough in the late 1950's early 1960's, he would sell a pint.  Bought groceries for an entire week.  So here we have gone full spectrum from laying in for 4+ weeks to jumping out of bed and doing a jig.  :)  God willing, I will be at your end of the spectrum.

      Thanks again,


  • 4+ weeks for the recipient. They go from 100% to 50% in one day. You’ve gone from, presumably, 100% to 10% over many decades.

    My wife, donor, experienced a lengthy recovery. Always tired. If son has “1 week”. He should look into FMLA rules. Good luck
    • "You’ve gone from, presumably, 100% to 10% over many decades."

      That may be true, George.  I have a feeling I was misdiagnosed with a swollen prostate back in 2007 (10 years ago).  Even if it was correct, that probably wasn't the only thing going on back then.  I had a chronic blockage in my bladder that  was the ultimate cause of my kidneys shutting down mid-March 2015.  I don't know how much abuse or how much time it would take to get to that point.  I can deal  with the 4+ weeks recovery time.  Better than being dead ... before my time.

      FMLA rules.  I'm assuming that has something to do with extended sick leave WITH compensation for an employee??


      • Unfortunately, FMLA only guarantees that your job will still be there when you return.  It does not require an employer to pay you, and I think it's highly unlikely that an employer who does not even provide sick time, would pay for FMLA.

  • I didn't go back to work for six weeks after donating.  I was 65, so older than your son, but depending on the type of work he does, he could be out as long as I was, or longer.  I would say the average is 3-6 weeks.  BTW, I donated to my husband, so not a "family member." All it takes is someone with the same blood type.  Maybe a friend?  My husband is retired, so I can't say for sure how long he would have been out of work.  But I would say 2-3 months.

    • Hello, Marilyn.

      My son is 37 years old.  He was in the Air Force back in 2002.  He trained at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX and was sent to Guam as part of Security Forces at Anderson AFB.  After that, he went to NTS to train as a pharmacy tech, but his heart was fixed on being an EMT.  He went through the program, but during that time, it was difficult for him to get placed.  Equal Opportunity Employment.  That did not stop him, however.  He went to fire school in Ocala, FL.  He was 10 years older than the other trainees.  He was more physically fit and was academically top of his class .... consistently. He works at a company that makes infusion pumps for cancer patients.  He mixes the medications needed for each patient.  His wife is a pharmacist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  I'm convinced he could handle the op and be back on his feet sooner than expected.  But he has his wife and kids to think about, too.  God forbid something would happen to his sons or daughter and he wouldn't be able to help.  Kidneyboy indicated that ALL of the "what ifs" or "possibles" would be placed on the table for scrutiny before anyone would sign on the dotted line.


  • FYI...many many people have very successful outcomes from cadaver kidneys.
    • Thank you Chris.  That's reassuring to know.


  • Have you been told that you need a transplant yet or been assigned to a Tx nephrologist?

    I understand your concern for your son, the Tx team will be considering all aspects of a candidate's life in determining their qualifications as a donor and will be sure he will be making an informed choice about donating.  This all starts with your honestly talking about your needs and thoughts to him. There will be follow-up appointments to ensure his continued health thereafter. The testing is a simple blood draw to determine his matching, if he is willing.

    It is true that some family members may be "better" matches for donating organs, but as in my history, I was only a 1 of 6 factor match from my unknown donor (blood type only.) The average recovery from donating is about a week, however there can always be complications from any surgery.

    It may be time to reach out to your estranged family and inform them of your condition.  People change and expecting the least of them deprives them of an opportunity to erase the past and step up.

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