What is a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant replaces your diseased kidneys with healthy donor kidneys. Once transplanted, your new kidney can work just like your own kidneys did when they were healthy. The transplanted kidneys will filter and clean your blood. Your body will get rid of the waste products through your urine like normal, and you’ll be able to eat and drink normally.

What is a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that takes place in an operating room where the surgeon places a healthy donated organ into your lower abdomen, next to your own kidneys. The new kidney may come from a living, related or unrelated donor. Living donors are usually members of your family like parents, siblings or children. Unrelated donors could be someone you know or an anonymous donor. The surgeon connects your new kidney’s blood vessels to the large blood vessel (artery) and small blood vessel (vein) in your lower abdomen. It takes about 4 to 8 hours for the surgery.

Your new kidney will stay in your lower abdomen, but it may be positioned differently than your old kidneys were. You can expect to spend 1 to 2 days in the hospital recovering from surgery after a kidney transplant.

A person who is diagnosed with renal failure due to extensive damage because of diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of kidney disease or chronic renal failure will conditionally benefit from a new kidney. The first step is to go on dialysis. Dialysis keeps some people alive while they wait for a new kidney.

Preparation for the transplant generally begins with dialysis treatments as soon as possible however, candidates must meet certain medical and non-medical requirements before they are put on the recipient list.

The average wait for a kidney transplant is 3-6 years, but the age of the patient may shorten or lengthen the time on the waiting list. Other factors which affect how quickly a person receives a new kidney include blood type and body size. The severity of illness will be determined by the attending nephrologist to determine whether or not the person is a good candidate for transplant. Once it is determined that someone might be a candidate, they will be placed on the UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing) recipient list in order to receive a new kidney. Doctors usually look at many factors when determining whether or not someone should go onto dialysis instead of receiving a transplant.

Patients usually go on dialysis as soon as possible after any sign of renal failure; the average time between symptom onset and initiation of dialysis is approximately 35 days, but may be shorter if there is a rapid progression to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). The development of ESKD can lead to serious sequelae including anemia, hyperkalemia, hypertension, coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke and increased risk of infection.

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