Beaumont Hospital Kidney Centre

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Emotional Aspects


SUPPORTS AVAILABLEAs a living kidney donor, you volunteer to go through surgery that carries certain risks and might not be of any direct benefit to you. This is why the living donor team go to such lengths to ensure we are not putting you at any unacceptable risk in agreeing to take a donated kidney from you. It also means that the assessment process is long and sometimes difficult. The psychologist is available to support you when issues arise such as:

  • You change your mind about being a donor because you realise being a living donor is not for you, or you are feeling too nervous about the surgery. The donor team recognises that this can be a difficult experience for potential donors, and they will do their best to support you through the process, in such a way that changing your mind would have minimal impact on your relationships/family.
  • You might be frustrated by the assessment process, perhaps because you find the wait difficult or you have other concerns.
  • You feel worried about the surgery or about living life with one kidney after surgery.
  • Your offer of donating a kidney is declined because the team are concerned about your medical suitability or the risks to your health. This can be a very disappointing experience for potential donors, particularly if it happens after you have gone through a number of assessments and your expectations have built up.



PsychologistIf you get to the point of going through living donor surgery, the team will be there to look after you throughout the process.

The psychologist will be available to support you, because recovery can bring up all kinds of issues for donors and their loved ones, including:

  • The donor finding it difficult to be in the unfamiliar sick role. This can be especially difficult because the recipient often recovers more quickly than the donor after the surgery.
  • The donor can sometimes feel an anticlimax or a sense of loss or sadness after the surgery. This is normal, and might be partly due to the anaesthetic or the physical exhaustion of surgery. It can also be a result of feeling upset at being dependent and unwell in a hospital bed.
  • The living donor may worry about the donated kidney being rejected by the recipient’s body. If the kidney is rejected, donors can feel huge disappointment and even despair and often need a lot of support.

Of course, living donors can also experience positive outcomes from giving a kidney, including;

  • The practical benefits of not having a spouse or child on dialysis: the recipient is more able to get involved in family life.
  • The ‘feel-good factor’ the donor gets knowing that they have made a positive difference to someone else’s life, by donating a kidney, and perhaps feeling closer to the recipient as a result of the surgery.



WHEN DIFFICULTIES ARISE...For the most part, living kidney donors do not regret going through the surgery. The research shows that for most donors, one year after surgery there is no significant change in their quality of life, selfreported health, anxiety or depression.

A minority of people regret donating however, and this is linked with a negative outcome for the donor and/ or the recipient. Complications for the donor or the recipient leading to long-term consequences such as chronic pain, place the donor at a slightly greater risk of mental health problems (e.g., anxiety or depression) because of the strain.

This also explains why it is important to donate for the right reasons. A strong bond between donor and recipient can help both parties to get through post-operative difficulties, whereas if the relationship breaks down, the donor may be left with regrets about donating.