Not to worry, say the good doctors at Johns Hopkins:
Once the kidney is cut from its attachments to the abdominal wall and arteries and veins are stapled shut, surgeons place the kidney in a plastic bag inserted through an incision in the vaginal wall and pull it out through the vaginal opening with a string attached to the bag.
So, theoretically, in the case of a male donor, doctors would insert the bag into the rectum, pass it through an incision into the abdominal cavity, use laparoscopic instruments to put the kidney into the bag and seal it, and then pull it out through the anus via the string. Then they'd open the bag and transplant the kidney into the recipient.
Well, never look a gift horse in the anus. If you're the recipient, thank your donor and your lucky stars. And thank the doctors for coming up with the plastic-bag idea. You're protected.
But what if you're the donor? The inside of the plastic bag might be fresh as a daisy. But the outside? It's been pushed up your rear end and into your abdominal cavity. And you heard what Dr. Bessler said about leakage. Talk about risking infection.
I look forward to news that this problem, too, has been solved. Until then, if anyone needs a kidney from me, I'll take the scar.
Slate V: Water pollution that helps fish, China's latest efforts to save science, and a new kind of green explosion