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Can I donate my kidney after my pregnancy?

Q: I am currently eight months pregnant. I wish to donate my kidney to my first cousin who is suffering from renal failure and is under dialysis currently. She has been advised to undergo kidney transplant. How long will I have to wait post pregnancy so as to opt for the donation? Does it have any side effects?

A:Long-term health prospects after donating a kidney are excellent. The sole kidney takes over the function of the other donated kidney by simply growing bigger. And donating within the family - including your sibling and related cousin - would make you the best donor since the blood and tissue types are usually similar (tested by a process called "matching"). The post-operative course after donation usually involves a short hospitalisation stay for 5-7 days besides pain management medications to control the pain that would reduce in intensity in the weeks to follow. One can resume routine activity in over a week’s time but would need to avoid physically demanding activities and lifting heavy objects for several weeks. The complications from kidney donation can be divided into those arising immediately from the surgery (including allergic reaction to anaesthesia, pneumonia, blood clot in the blood vessels of legs or lungs and wound or urinary tract infection) and those that emerge many years after the kidney was donated. There are some insignificant long-term risks, which a potential donor should be aware of. These include an insignificant rise in blood pressure and an insignificant degree of kidney disease, usually setting in many years later. The timing of your donating the kidney would depend upon: how well your pregnancy and delivery proceed and the post-partum recovery course. This would be in addition to your overall health examination including ruling out any history of diabetes, hypertension and signs of underlying kidney disease (including checking for protein leakage in the urine) by a series of tests and follow-up physical examination.

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