Diving after Kidney Donation

I want to donate a kidney to my sister, who is in need. Will donating a kidney effect my ability to dive?
First, thank you for considering being a living kidney donor. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 114,000 people in the United States are awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant, and someone is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. About 83 percent of these people are awaiting a kidney, but there simply aren’t enough donors — living or deceased — available to meet the demand.

Your gift of life is heroic and much needed. The concern with diving after donating a kidney is the same as with any abdominal surgery: You must allow a sufficient amount of time for healing not only the external surgical site but also the abdominal wall and the organ structures. For this reason, you’ll likely stay in the hospital for several days. Once discharged you’ll continue your recovery at home. It generally takes about six weeks for you to heal completely and return to your normal routine. If you have no complications in healing, you can consider diving after your surgeon clears you for unrestricted physical activity.

A common symptom following kidney donation is persistent fatigue, which can vary in duration. If you  experience significant fatigue, diving is not recommended. Once your fatigue subsides, diving should not present any increased risk. There is no evidence of increased or decreased DCS risk following kidney donation or abdominal surgery. Once your physician clears you to dive, your risks will be no greater than they were before the surgery. For more information about recovery from kidney donation, visit unos.org/donation/living-donation. — Jonathan Gilliam, EMT-P, DMT

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