Kidney Transplant - Medx Health Assistance
kidney transplant

Kidney Transplant

The kidneys are one of the most important organs. They are 2 bean-shaped organs located on each side of the spine just below the rib cage. Their main function is to filter and remove waste by producing urine. 

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to replace the damaged kidney with a healthy kidney from a living or deceased donor. 

Who needs a Kidney transplant?

When the kidneys lose the ability to filter excessive levels of fluids and waste accumulates in the body, leading to high blood pressure and causes kidney failure. When kidneys lose their ability to function normally by 90%, the condition is called end-stage kidney disease. To survive in such a condition, patients need to remove the harmful level of fluid from the body. This is done either by dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Causes of end-stage kidney disease:

  • Repeated urinary infections
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Diabetes
  • Lupus or other immunity disorders
  • Inflammation of the filters in the kidney-glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease

Why opt for a Kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is a permanent treatment option as compared to lifetime dialysis. 

A successful kidney transplant:

  • Improves the quality of life
  • Lowers the risk of death
  • Fewer dietetic limitations
  • Comparatively lower treatment costs.

Types of Kidney Transplants

One healthy kidney is enough for a person to survive after kidney failure even if both kidneys have failed. Two types of kidney transplants are done:

Deceased donor kidney transplant: in this, the kidney is taken from a brain-dead person or someone who has recently died. A kidney is taken after consent from the family or if the person has already pledged to donate while they were alive. 

The kidney is stored in ice or connected to a machine that provided oxygen and nutrition until is it is transplanted to the recipient. Time plays a crucial role here that is why the donor and recipient are often from the same geographical location to minimize the time for the kidney to be transported to the recipient.

Living donor kidney transplant: in this, a healthy kidney from a living donor is transplanted to the patient. The donor is usually a family member such as siblings or in some cases, it can also be an unrelated donor. A registry is maintained where people are interested to keep the database of unrelated donors. Genetically related family members are most likely to be compatible living kidney donors.

Since only one healthy donor is required to replace two failed kidneys, a living donor kidney is preferred over the deceased one. The benefits of a living donor kidney are as follows:

  • Dialysis can be potentially avoided if it has not begun.
  • Waiting time is less which prevents deterioration of health of the patient
  • The transplant can be scheduled and a donor can travel from a different place to donate. Thus, an emergency transplant from a deceased donor can be avoided.
  • As per the research, this has better short term and long-term survival rates

Both types of transplants have similar risks associated such as organ rejection, infection, side-effects of anti-rejection medications, or risks during the surgery.

The Process of Kidney Transplant

Once it is decided that you will be going with the kidney transplant, the type of transplant is discussed. For a living donor kidney, both the donor and recipient’s health are evaluated to determine if you both are a perfect match or not. To be a good match the donor and recipient’s blood and tissue types should be compatible.

The evaluation can be physical, psychological, mental, social, and overall history along with diagnostic tests such as X-ray, mammogram, ultrasound, kidney biopsy, dental exams.

However, in some cases, if the perfect matching donor is not available then nearly matched donors can donate their kidneys. In this case, medicines are given before and after the transplant to reduce the rejection and desensitize the immune system of the patient.

After the match is found and evaluated, the kidney transplant is scheduled in advance. Usually, the transplant and donation happen on the same day.

After the kidney transplant

renal_transplantA kidney transplant usually requires hospitalization for a few days. You will be kept in the ICU for close monitoring. The post-surgery period is the most critical.

Living donor kidney starts functioning right after the transplant. It starts making urine while the deceased kidney may take some time to produce urine. Your urine output is monitored to check if the new kidney is functioning normally or not.

A thorough check-up and blood tests would be done. You will be given proper instructions to avoid infection at the surgery site. You will not be allowed to pursue strenuous activities for a few days.

To allow the transplanted kidney to survive in your body, you will be given medicines for the rest of your life to fight rejection. Each person may react differently to medicines.

Avoid places in which you may be exposed to anyone who may be sick. This is because your immune system will be suppressed to protect you from rejecting the new kidney. This will be a lifelong precaution. Doctors may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.

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