Laparoscopic Surgery for the Kidney Donor

UCSF is a leader in the use of laparoscopic donor nephrectomy — "nephrectomy" is the term used to refer to removal of a kidney. This form of donation uses very small incisions, a thin scope with a camera to view the inside of the body, and wand-like instruments to remove the kidney.

Since UCSF began performing laparoscopic nephrectomies in 1999, almost all of our living donors have been able to donate their kidneys using this approach. Compared with the large incision operation used in the past, laparoscopic surgery has greatly improved the donor's recovery process in several ways:

  • Less need for strong pain medications
  • Shorter recovery time in the hospital
  • Quicker return to normal activities
  • Very low complication rate

The quality and function of kidneys that are transplanted this way are excellent.

The laparoscopic procedure will be described in detail in a consultation before the planned surgery date. The operation usually takes about three hours. Most donors who undergo laparoscopic nephrectomy require a hospital stay of only two or three days. Once the donor leaves the hospital, he or she will be seen for follow-up care in the transplant clinic. If the donor is from out of town, he or she should plan on staying in the area for a week after leaving the hospital. Donors often are able to return to work as soon as three weeks after the procedure.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information