Any healthy person can safely donate a kidney

Did you know that most of us have two kidneys, and when you donate one the other enlarges to take on the extra workload?

Any healthy person can safely donate a kidney.

View from UCSF exam room where lots of tests have led up to the care team’s decision to move forward with donation

The surgery itself is relatively simple for the donor. Granted, it’s major surgery and an organ you’re born with will be removed and placed in another person’s body — what? But for the donor, the procedure is mostly laparoscopic until the kidney is freed from it’s original home. Then a 3″ to 4″ incision is made on the bikini line and the kidney is removed. Recovery for the donor is similar to any surgery, four to six weeks of rest, no lifting more than 10 pounds, and that sort of thing. Yearly blood pressure checks are required, and it’s a good idea to check in on things annually to make sure everything is functioning well.

About Garrett Ramos


At 14, Garrett Ramos was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, an immune system disorder that can result in kidney failure when met with a virus or bacterial infection.

He is the youngest of three boys in the Ramos family–a family thoroughly invested in the Fremont, Calif. community, where both parents grew up. Garrett’s older brothers, Justin and Trevor, both played football in high school and he was miraculously able to play as well, with some accommodations. The Ramos’ have poured into their schools, community and sports teams. Many of you reading this blog will have worked along side the Ramos family in one way or another.

Garrett, mom Liz, brother Trevor, dad Gary, and brother Justin at Trevor’s wedding last summer 

Now at 19, like others with IgA Nephropathy, Garrett’s increasing kidney failure has meant swelling in the hands and feet, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and sleep problems. About 25 percent of adults with IgA nephropathy develop total kidney failure. Only 5 to 10 percent of children develop total kidney failure.

Garrett’s kidney damage is permanent and is currently managed through Peritoneal (stomach) dialysis. This means that because his kidneys aren’t able to do their job properly, Garrett spends up to 15 hours a day first on a manual dialysis to pump medication into his stomach, then on an automatic dialysis through the night to help flush the toxins normally handled by the kidneys through his system.

Garrett can live for many years with the aid of dialysis and other procedures, but his best hope for a quality life is a kidney transplant.

Despite his health challenges, Garrett attends classes at Ohlone College in Fremont most mornings before his dialysis begins. He hopes to be a teacher. Mom Liz reminds him that to be a teacher, you have to actually go to class.