Back Pain From Kidney Donation


Q: I gave my son a kidney 8/6/95. Although I have not had back pain, I have experinced weakness in my right leg(it is much better now) and continually have discomfort on my left side if I carry heavy objects like groceries. I am surprised that you carried a back pack so soon after your surgery. I was told not to for 6-8 months.

A: I am writing in hopes of finding another kidney donor who has experienced lower back pain from the donor surgery, but information for anyone will be greatly appreciated. I was a kidney donor 1 1/2 years ago, the recipient is doing great and I had a very nice and easy recovery. About 4 months ago I started to experience a great deal of lower back pain that would occassionaly radiate down my legs. Sometimes my back will ache and sometimes it feels as if a knife was plunged into it. I saw a doctor who referred me to an OB/GYN thinking I was having gynecological problems. The OB/GYN found nothing adnormal with my reproductive organs but came to the conclusion that my spine and muscles were damaged because of the abnormal position my body was placed in during the donor surgery. I have had 3 other abdominal surgeries in the past 9 years and they may have attributed to it also if I was placed in an unusual position (they were C-Sections). I am supposed to start seeing a chiropractor. 12 weeks after the donor surgery I was carrying a 50 lb. backpack hiking the canyons of Utah with no back problems so I am unsure of the diagnosis. Would I not have noticed this problem sooner if it was related to the donor surgery? I don't know for sure but the pain could be caused by a rough cut of the removed rib. My father is waiting for a k/p and we watched a tape of a show on Discovery. The show was "The Operation". It showed a son donating a kidney to his father. As the surgeon was snipping off the lower rib, he explained some donors feel sharp pains if a clean cut is not achieved. The tool he used was very sharp so he said the patient he was working on should feel no discomfort. Perhaps the tool used in your operation was not as sharp as it could have been. I'm not saying this is definately what happened, but it is a possibliity. The fact that it took over 1 year for your pain to occur puzzles me. Perhaps you could mention this to your doctor and see what he or she thinks. I have been subscribed to this list for quite some time, but this is my first attempt at responding to a message. I donated my left kidney to a friend of mine on April 27, 1993. (He has actually posted a couple of messages--Tom Jones). I had an easy recovery and fully resumed all my activities. In fact, I delivered a healthy baby about 14 months after the surgery. My lower back has not "ached" since my surgery (even during my pregnancy), but I do occasionally experience intermittent shooting pains on the right side of my lower back, which sometimes go down the back of my leg. I rarely experience any discomfort on my left side--even when lifting weights or carrying heavy objects, However, I spend alot of time working on the stomach, back and side muscle groups. I was very fortunate in that my surgeon was able to safely remove the kidney without removing the rib. I know that for some surgeons it is standard practice to automatically remove the rib, but my surgeon took the approach of removing it only if needed, and they were able to keep it. The intermittent shooting pain does not hurt, nor does it keep me from working full-time, traveling, working out, chasing my daughter (now a toddler) around, or playing racquetball, softball and volleyabll. Mostly it is just kind of weird when it happens. It comes without warning and cannot be linked to any specific activities, and it spontaneously goes away quickly. My physicians can find no reason for this, and have assured me that the remaining kidney is fine. Right after the surgery, it was suggested that the pains could be from the remaining right kidney increasing in size. But I still occasionally get them three years out. So, while it is a different experience than prior to the surgery, and I am very aware of it when it happens, it is infrequent and benign enough that I just ignore it at this point. Hope this helps.

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