The procedure involving the removal of a kidney is called a nephrectomy. There are basically three different types of nephrectomy. The first, and most desirable, is the "laparoscopic nephrectomy". This entire surgery is done through several small incisions. The lap procedure is the least invasive and has the shortest recovery time. The second is "hand-assisted laparoscopy". In this procedure there are the small incisions, as before, for the lap instruments, but a small incision is made near the bellybutton so that the surgeon may insert his hand to assist in the work. They generally will remove the kidney through this incision as well. Finally, the last type of procedure is called and "open nephrectomy". In this procedure, they make a large incision somewhere in order to do the surgery completely open. For kidney donation purposes, this is usually on the left side, just below the rib cage, about a foot long and involves the removal of the last rib. This is the most painful, most invasive procedure and takes the longest to recover from.
I had the "hand assisted" procedure but they used my existing c-section scar instead of the bellybutton incision. The entire procedure lasted roughly 6 hours from leaving pre-op to waking up in my room. Due to using the previous incision scar, there was scar tissue to deal with as well as a little more bleeding than they had counted on. All-in-all, everything went well.
My recipient, having PKD, had a full nephrectomy as well. His native kidneys were so cystic, that they thought it best to remove them completely. He had a previous midline incision on his belly that they used. They cut him down the middle of his belly from about the nipples to below the bellybutton and removed - wait for it - TWO SIX POUND KIDNEYS!!! My sisters twins didn't weigh that much!! That man gave birth to twins!!! All joking aside, can you imagine, the pressure in his belly? If you've ever been pregnant, you know what I'm talking about. The pressure, the breathing restriction, the indigestion and everything else. This man dealt with all of this his entire life!!
My little kidney was so tiny compared to his, but it started working right away and everything was great! Here we are, three weeks later and he is doing awesome!
Next post: recovery in the hospital and at home.