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What are the risks of nephrectomy?

Possible complications of nephrectomy (surgical removal of a kidney) include:
  • infection
  • bleeding (hemorrhage) requiring blood transfusion
  • postoperative pneumonia
  • rare allergic reactions to anesthesia
  • death
There is also a small risk of kidney failure in a patient with lowered function or disease in the remaining kidney.

The risks of donor nephrectomy for kidney transplantation are very small. This is likely because almost all living donors undergo careful pre-op testing and evaluation to make sure they are healthy enough for surgery. Studies report death rates for donor nephrectomy as 3 per 10,000 donor surgeries. About one or two per 100 patients may experience a postoperative wound infection or complication and about half of these patients may require reoperation for a complication.

The vast majority of kidney donors live long and healthy lives with one kidney.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.