Kidney donation is very safe and seldom causes any long-term effects. Most people have the kidney removed through a laparoscopic nephrectomy, a less invasive procedure than open surgery. The main risks and side effects are similar to those of any surgery.
Anyone who donates a kidney will experience pain at the incision site and likely will need pain medication for a number of days after the surgery. Risks for any operation include reaction to anesthesia, blood clots, blood loss, breathing problems and infection.
Signs of an infection include increase in redness or swelling of the incisions, increase in pain, trouble urinating, changes in urine appearance or smell, persistent fever, persistent sore throat or sinus drainage, sweating, chills, nausea and skin rash.
Some people have abdominal bloating, cramping and general discomfort after surgery. Postoperative patients are only allowed to consume ice chips and clear liquids for the first 24 hours after surgery, and the diet is gradually increased.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, kidney donors are at no greater risk for future health problems than those with two kidneys. Kidney donation also does not change life expectancy for the donors.
Rare cases have been reported of long-term complications such as vomiting, abdominal and pelvic pain, dizziness and lethargy. According to CBS News, there are no reliable statistics about surgical complications for kidney donors.