What is Kidney Transplantation?
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure performed to replace a diseased kidney with a healthy kidney from another person. The kidney may come from a deceased organ donor or from a living donor. Family members who make a good match may be able to donate one of their kidneys. This type of transplant is called a living transplant. Individuals who donate a kidney can live healthy lives with the remaining kidney. There are several advantages to living donor transplants when compared to cadaveric transplants. These include:
- There is less waiting time involved.
- There are higher success rates.
- Surgery can be planned, which allows for the best health of the donor and recipient.
How is it done?
The surgeon places the donor kidney off to one side of your lower abdomen and attaches the artery and vein of the transplanted kidney to the blood vessels in your pelvis. The surgery usually takes about 3 hours. Following surgery, you will have a urinary catheter draining urine from your bladder. The urinary catheter is usually removed after 5 days.
Why is it done?
Most transplants work immediately, and creatinine levels return to normal levels within weeks. A few transplanted kidneys will be slow to work. When this happens, dialysis is needed until the kidneys start to function.
Risks & complications
You have probably already thought about some good things about getting a new kidney: the fact that you will have more free time if you are not on dialysis; the hope that you can return to work if you are not able to work now; the probability that you will feel better and have more energy; the idea that you will no longer have to restrict your fluid intake, and you may be able to eat some foods not now permitted. All is very appealing!
But certainly, there are risks. The first is that of surgery, which involves the use of general anesthesia (being put to sleep).Infection, following the surgery, is another risk. So is having to return to the operating room if there is a complication. Although precautions are taken to minimize these risks, they are always a possibility with any major surgery. Another risk involves the medicines that are taken after transplant. Their purpose is to make your immune system less active so your body will not reject the kidney. Your immune system’s job is to fight off disease and infection. When its “fighting ability” is reduced by the medicines, diseases and infection can occur more readily. Sometimes, though rarely, death can result.
Some patients have had many problems because of illness in addition to kidney failure. Some patient patients are older, some are not so old, but having other disease may pose greater risk for transplantation. Part of the evaluation involves weighing risks and benefits and determining whether the benefit outweighs the risk.
Kidney failure was an untreatable condition. Now, with different forms of dialysis, we are able to save many lives that would once have been lost. Dialysis is not a cure for kidney failure, but rather a substitute for the natural kidney.
Today, kidney transplantation is accepted as the best treatment for patients with end stage kidney disease. As you look into kidney transplantation, you will receive information about the various aspects of the transplant process. You will be given information before your transplant, during your hospital stay, and after the transplant that addresses your questions and concerns. Many of your concerns are common to all patients who choose to have a kidney transplant. It is our goal to help you make an informed choice about transplant. We believe the information will help you become a more active partner in your treatment and recovery after a kidney transplant.