I knew from my experience that, if both kidneys function equally, surgeons usually prefer to take a donor’s left kidney. I don’t remember all the reasons behind that. The one that stuck with me, because it was funny to visualize, was that the blood vessels that connect to the left side tend to be longer. Since they have to find a new place to connect the donated kidney up to the recipient, they like to have as much vascular runway as they can get. At least that’s how I understood what they explained.
In the survey, mostly just for fun, I asked donors if they were a lefty or a righty and if they gave it a name. Here’s the breakdown of left vs right amongst the 272 kidney donors who answered this question on the survey:
I have no idea what the actual breakdown is of left vs. right and there were no real conclusions to draw about it from the survey data. However, a study published in 2017 that reported that left-sided donors were more likely to develop symptoms of fatigue and less likely to develop hypertension than their right-sided counterparts was recently shared in one of the Facebook groups.
Let’s be honest — of course reading this abstract makes me really uncomfortable, but at the same time I don’t actually know how to best interpret the risk they’re talking about. As with a lot of the information out there about living kidney donation, the study and its abstract were written for an academic audience. The actual implications go a little over my colloquial head.
I remember an independent nephrologist telling me that my risk of ESRD after the surgery would we something like 5x greater than it was before. Holy crap, right? But then, he pointed me to a tool developed by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that calculated that risk based on my health and fitness profile at the time as a fraction of 1%. So…is it like that? I really don’t know.
My advice to prospective donors is to ask a lot of questions.
Did You Give The Kidney You Donated a Name?
When the Living Donor I met through Living Donors Online suggested that I give the kidney I was about to give away a name, I rolled my eyes. As hokey as it seemed, though, having a name for it has given me and my recipient a little comic relief and a nice short hand to talk about her health.
Looks like about 25% of the 273 donors who answered this question also gave their donated kidney a name.