Your kidneys are two small organs located below your ribcage, on either side of your spine. The kidneys are responsible for maintaining homeostasis by monitoring the amount of fluids and ions in your body. When the kidneys are unable to perform this function, it will result in kidney failure. A kidney transplant, is then the preferred form of treatment to solve this.
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Surgical team performing a kidney transplant.
Surgical team performing a kidney transplant.
Kidney Transplant Quick Details
WHO IS THIS FOR
Patients with kidney failure.
3 to 4 hours.
You will recover for a few days in the hospital.
You will need approximately 8-12 weeks, depending on your health status to go back to your normal routine.
5-year survival rate with living-donor transplant: approximately 88%.
5-year survival rate with a deceased-donor transplant: approximately 79%.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
Surgery: rejection or failure of donated kidney, bleeding, infection, pain, heart attack and stroke.
Immunosuppressants: weight gain, infections, higher risk of certain types of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, hair loss or excessive hair growth and skin problems.
When is a kidney transplant necessary?
A kidney transplant is required when your kidneys are unable to perform their functions. This may include, filtering our blood, removing toxins, maintaining the amount of electrolytes in the body. In general, kidneys play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis in our body. In most cases, the treatment starts with dialysis until a matching donor kidney is found for you.
Who can be a donor?
If you would like to become a donor, there are a few steps you will have to undergo.
You have to be over the age of 18.
You will go through a strict evaluation process, to make sure you are healthy enough to donate. This will include blood and tissue type tests, HIV, - Hepatitis, a full physical examination (such as a pap smear, prostate exam, colonoscopy) and a psychological evaluation.
Most transplant centers do not allow smokers to donate.
Clearly and voluntarily consent to understanding and undergoing the surgery.
You have the possibility of donating your kidney to someone you know or a stranger. This can also be done anonymously.
Please bear in mind, that the transplant is a massive surgery, and will involve considerable recovery time. Feel free to talk to your general practitioner or someone at the transplant center and clear any questions you may have.
Lastly, the decision is yours to take. Do not feel pressured, and think your decision through before choosing to undergo the surgery.
What happens during a kidney transplant?
You will have to undergo a thorough consultation and evaluation to decide whether you are eligible for the transplant. This is done to make sure you are healthy enough to withstand the massive surgery, and can take lifelong immunosuppressants. Your medical history will also be discussed.
You will also have to undergo a few blood tests, imaging tests such as an MRI or a CT scan and other relevant tests depending on your individual case.
After all the results are reviewed by your doctors, your eligibility will be decided.
Pre -Op To get a living donor kidney, you have to preferably match your donor’s blood type, tissue type and pass the crossmatch test. The donor could be a family member, a friend, a partner or a complete stranger.
Surgery As soon as a kidney is available, you will be asked to come in for surgery. The surgery works as follows:
You will be placed under general anaesthesia. The surgeon will then proceed to make a small incision near your lower abdomen, and place the donor kidney there. Your own kidneys will not be removed unless they are infected .
The new kidney’s blood vessels will be attached to blood vessels in the lower abdomen, the ureter will then be attached to your bladder.
The surgeon will then close your incision and you will be brought to your room for recovery.
Post-Op After your surgery you will be prescribed immunosuppressants, which are basically ‘anti-rejection’ medication so that your own immune system does not treat the kidney as foreign and therefore reject it. In addition, you will be prescribed antibiotics and related medication to counter the weakening of your immune system via the immunosuppressant.
What should I expect from this procedure?
A kidney transplant is a massive surgery and requires a lot of evaluation even before the operation, to determine your eligibility. There are also several risks, and you have to weigh the pros and cons with reference to your particular case. Please make sure to talk with your doctors, family, friends and counsellors.
If you have been determined to be eligible, that is just the beginning of the process. There will be multiple and regular testings, and you may have to wait to find the perfect kidney. This may take several months. During the wait, you will regularly have to undergo blood tests to make sure the perfect match is found and you will still be going for your regular dialysis.
The entire process is physically and mentally demanding. The wait, the post-op lifelong care are all challenging. But, make sure to have your loved ones, a community of people with the same challenges and a reliable medical team supporting you throughout this time.