Kidney health

I am considering donating a kidney to a friend. I have been doing a ton of research to figure out how my lifestyle would be affected by this and I keep coming across warnings that impact sports should be avoided by people who have only one kidney. My riding is limited to trail rides on a slow geriatric horse but I do sometimes fantasize about getting back into jumping.

If there is anyone out there with one kidney, I would love to hear if it has affected your equestrian lifestyle at all.

Also, if anyone has donated a kidney, I would love to hear how if affected your lifestyle and if you have any regrets. My next step is to meet with a kidney donation counsellor but I don’t know if they’ll have much experience with the equestrian aspect of all this.


I rode with someone when I was a kid who had a kidney removed due to cancer. She was maybe 12 at the time. She continued to ride and jump but always wore a safety vest. I don’t think it was without risk, but then again it wasn’t optional for her. After what she had been through I don’t think her parents wanted to take away the horses too. I don’t know if she continued to ride as an adult.

Super personal decision I imagine, but good for you for atleast exploring it!

You’re amazing for even considering this. I have a friend who donated a kidney to another friend and I’m sure she’d be willing to talk to you, but unfortunately she’s not an equestrian so can’t directly answer your questions about riding. PM me if you’d like me to put you in contact with her.

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This is encouraging, thanks. I was thinking that I should probably get a padded vest if I do go through with this. Thanks for the reply!

I really appreciate the offer but I do have access to non horsey donors for their advice and experience. Thanks for the offer, though!

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I donated a kidney 7 years ago and started riding 6 years ago ( I’m 37). I bought my first horse this year while I mostly take dressage lessons I had jumping lessons for a couple of years and my trainer and I are incorporating some jumping lessons into my mare’s training program.

I have no showing aspirations and stick to smaller schooling shows for fun. I waited a long time to buy as I really wanted a perfect match. My mare is very quiet/ easy going and while I’m ok with the occasional buck or spook I am very much aware of my skill set /limitations and won’t ride anything I’m not fully confident I can handle. I continue to lesson on other horses as well as I’m still very much a beginner and am conscientious when hacking or riding on my own. I take things slow.

I have no regrets re the donation but feel free to pm me if you’d like to hear more about my experience/ have any questions :wink:


I donated a kidney 15 years ago and compete in the A/A hunters now and did the A/Os with my prior horse after my donation. No regrets! Send me a PM. Happy to connect.


Great, wonderful to hear! This makes me a little less nervous about the whole thing.

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This is lovely to hear. Did you have to make any lifestyle changes as a result of giving up a kidney? From what I’ve read so far it seems like there are very few risks with having one kidney. I have a terrible phobia of blood tests and I see there are lots of those involved in this process. And the thought of getting an IV makes me almost pass out but I can put on my big girl pants and fight through that to help a friend.

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Most of the blood tests are to be sure you are a good match. I get blood work yearly (which I would get yearly anyway based on my age). Fun fact 5 or so % of the population has only one kidney and that’s the most common reason people can’t donate. Age adjusted donors are healthier with one kidney than the non-donor population.

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@fourfillies I think this is due to pre screening ( healthy candidates overall prior to donation) and the annual blood work helps. They can catch things before they become chronic issues.

@Weezer the only lifestyle “changes” I was advised about was to try to keep high sodium foods to a minimum ( as in processed food) but I already was doing that prior to donation.

Only downside- the recovery from surgery was +++++ painful, even though it was laproscopic. Maybe I’m a wimp, but it was a tough 4 weeks ( I had a job I was on my feet for 12+ hours a day and couldn’t go back to it for a month).

Thanks, all. I will plan on it being 4 hard weeks and will have to hire someone to do the farm chores (or convince my husband to pick up a pitch fork :laughing:) Other than that, it seems pretty straight forward. On Monday I will call to start the testing process.


My BIL donated his kidney to his brother about 28 years ago. It has never stopped him from doing anything strenuous, dangerous and he is an avid outdoor person.

What it did was cause him to be out of commission for quite a while and he was about 24 when he donated the kidney. Definitely much worse on the kidney giver. The recipient is up and going right away.

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Yikes! Well, I’ve made it to 39 without any surgeries or major health problems so I guess this will be a rough go for me. I am generally a very stir-crazy type so I’ll have to come up with a strategy to keep myself entertained during the long recovery.

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I posted this in the Off Course thread, but wanted to repeat it here:

I haven’t donated one, but I did have a kidney removed due to illness when I was 16. My nephrologist told me that while he shouldn’t technically recommend that I continue riding, as long as I don’t happen to puncture my remaining kidney in a fall I should be okay.

It took until this year for me to start wearing a safety vest while I ride (oops), but otherwise it hasn’t impacted my riding at all, save for perpetually leaning over the side where a kidney no longer exists :joy:

Major props to you for considering donation!