This month’s question was a very interesting one about returning to training after being a living kidney donor:
“I will be having surgery to donate a kidney to my mother in a few weeks. The only advice about recovery I’ve been able to find is ‘refrain from lifting more than 10 pounds for 8 weeks after surgery.’
How can I get back into my strength training routine safely?” – Adriene
First off, I would like to commend this reader for being a living kidney donor. As readers may know, many patients with end stage renal (kidney) disease and kidney failure require a transplant. The average waiting time for a kidney transplant is 3-5 years. In the past 23 years, a total of 349,799 kidney transplants have been performed. Of these, 227,905 were deceased kidney donors and 121,894 were living kidney donors. (US Dept of HHS, http://1.usa.gov/1jBYpfn ).
The major benefits of having a living kidney donor include:
Thanks to GGS reader, Anum Yoon, for creating this infographic and sharing it with us!
Click image to see at full size.
There are two types of surgeries used to remove the kidney from the living donor: laparoscopic and open. Most transplant centers currently utilize a laparoscopic surgical technique, which requires a small incision to access the kidney.
Laparoscopic surgery decreases recovery time, allows quicker return to activities, and decreases complications. Most patients who donate a kidney with laparoscopy will remain in the hospital for 1-3 days, and can expect about a 4 week recovery period before returning to work, driving and other activities.
When an open surgery is required, it is necessary to create a 5-7 inch incision, dividing muscle and removing the tip of the 12th rib to access the kidney. Donors who undergo this technique can expect to spend about 5-7 days in the hospital, with return to work in 4-8 weeks (depending on the type of work).
Living kidney donors can expect to return to normal health and activity levels; but, should allow for healing to occur in the first 8 weeks following surgery. A general rule of thumb is to expect 4 weeks for recovery from laparoscopic donor surgery and 8 weeks for open surgery.
General lifting guidelines:
These guidelines are useful for the average donor who wants to return to normal activities of daily living; but this reader is a Girl Gone Strong who wants to lift more than 30 pounds!
So let’s get a bit more specific in helping her return to lifting heavy things! Here are some tips for a successful recovery:
You can find a physical therapist in your area here.
With patience and determination, you will get back to all of the activities you love, and you will have given your mother the gift of health as well!
When you’re ready to resume normal activity and training, we strongly recommend including injury prevention strategies in your training program to address mobility, stability, and overall movement.
If you’d like to learn more, check out our Modern Woman’s Injury Prevention Handbook, which includes exercises you can do in less than 10 minutes, before your workout or any time.
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