Transplantation is an alternative to hemodialysis or other dialysis therapies. It is a treatment but not a cure for kidney disease. Kidney disease has no cure.
The transplantation process has many steps. First, talk with your doctor because transplantation isn’t for everyone. You could have a condition that would make transplantation dangerous or unlikely to succeed.
The transplant procedure involves removing a normal functioning kidney from one individual and placing it into someone whose kidneys have failed. If the transplant is successful, the new kidney takes over and you no longer need dialysis. The kidney transplantation involves receiving a healthy kidney from either a living donor or from an individual who has died (deceased donor).
The kidney that you receive must be a good match for your body. The more the new kidney is like you, the less likely your immune system is to reject it. Your immune system protects you from disease by attacking anything that is not recognized as a normal part of your body. Your immune system will attack a kidney that appears to be “foreign.” You will take special medications to help trick your immune system so it does not reject the transplanted kidney.
The new kidney is placed in the abdominal cavity and sewn to the recipient’s vein, artery, and bladder by a team of highly specialized transplant surgeons. The transplanted kidney may start working right away or it may take up to a few weeks to make urine. Unless your own kidneys are causing infection or high blood pressure, they are left in place. The average hospital stay is five to ten days after transplant.
What are the advantages and challenges of living donation?
One advantage of receiving a kidney transplant from a living donor is that the average long-term success rates tend to be significantly higher than transplants from nonliving donors. Another advantage is that the operation can be scheduled to suit your needs because it is not necessary to wait the usual two to four years or more for a kidney to become available from a deceased donor. One challenge is that a healthy donor must undergo an operation to remove the kidney to be transplanted into you, the recipient.
If you would like to learn more about transplantation, you can visit the website for the United Network for Organ Sharing at www.unos.org. You should also seek advice from your nephrologist.