Living kidney donation surgery might seem intimidating, but most donors find that the surgery is easier to handle than they expected. If your surgery is approved, our transplant team will work closely with you to schedule surgery and give you more information about your donation process.

Shorter Recovery Time, Less Pain

Today almost every living donor at University of Utah Health undergoes an operation called a laparoscopic nephrectomy. In this minimally invasive operation, surgeons only need to make a few small cuts (incisions).

Fewer incisions allow for a much faster recovery than traditional surgery (an open nephrectomy), which requires a large incision that's 10-12 inches long.

Laparoscopic surgery usually lasts three to five hours. 

You can expect to stay in the hospital for one to three days. Then, you will need to take it easy for two to three weeks after you are discharged.

Preparing for Surgery

You will need to have lab tests one week before your surgery that include:

  • regular pre-operative testing,
  • a urine test to make sure you don’t have a urinary tract infection,
  • and another crossmatch test to make sure that you and your recipient are still compatible. 

Here are some things to think about in prepararation for your surgery and recovery:

  • How will I get to and from the hospital before and after my surgery?
  • What do I need to bring to the hospital? 

You might want to consider packing:

  • some clothing like underwear, socks, pajamas, a robe, slippers, and sweats—or other comfortable clothing to wear home;
  • a pair of shoes—as your strength improves, the doctors will want you to walk around;
  • and personal toiletries.

Recovering From Surgery

Do you want to know more about what your surgery will be like? We encourage you to learn more about the typical kidney donor’s surgery experience.

During the entire donation process, the independent living donor advocate (ILDA) is available to help make sure your rights as a donor are protected.

To Begin

Start the kidney screening process.
living donor and doctor

Paul J. Campsen, MD

Patient Rating:


4.8 out of 5

Paul Jeffery Campsen, MD, FACS, FAST is the Surgical Director of Pancreas Transplantation, Adult and Pediatric Kidney Transplantation, and Living Donor Kidney Transplantation at the University of Utah.   He also specializes in Autotransplantation of the kidney for chronic kidney pain and loin pain hematuria syndrome.  He practices at the University... Read More

Robin D. Kim, MD

Patient Rating:


4.5 out of 5

Dr. Kim received his Bachelor of Arts from The Johns Hopkins University and his Doctor of Medicine from Jefferson Medical College. He completed his residency in General Surgery at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine which included a two-year research fellowship in liver regeneration and cancer. Following his residency, Dr. Kim went ... Read More


Kidney Transplant, Liver Cancer, Liver Disease, Liver Transplant, Liver, Biliary, & Pancreas Surgery, Living Kidney Donor Transplant, Living Liver Donor Transplant, Pancreas Transplant, Transplant Surgery


Huntsman Cancer Hospital 801-585-6140
Primary Children's Hospital
Pediatric Gastroenterology
University Hospital
Transplant Center

University of Utah

University Hospital 50 N. Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
(801) 585-3188