Someone suffering from kidney failure has very few options when it comes to leading a healthy life. Dialysis is one option, but many people feel that a transplant offers more freedom and energy than constant medical treatment. In younger people, receiving a new kidney could also increase the chances of fertility.
What is a Kidney Transplant?
A kidney transplant is when someone suffering from kidney failure receives one new kidney from a healthy person, living or deceased. Living donors are possible with a kidney donation because you only need one kidney to clean your blood properly.
Donors can be spouses, relatives, close friends or even complete strangers.
Kidneys from a living donor have a higher success rate than those from a deceased donor.
Living donors and transplant patients can work together to schedule a transplant for a time that's good for everyone. Transplant patients who are using deceased donors have to wait until a kidney becomes available.
Getting a New Kidney
After you have found a donor, it's time for surgery.
Open your lower abdomen
Place the new kidney on the right or left side, just above your hip bone
Connect the blood vessels and urine tube
The surgery will take between three and five hours.
Failed kidneys are not removed.
After Your Kidney Transplant
Immediately after surgery you will feel tired and sore. There will be a catheter in your bladder to remove urine and an IV in your arm to keep you hydrated and to give you medication.
You may be able to eat and drink within one day, and within two days you may be able to get out of bed and walk around.
One of the primary concerns with a kidney transplant is the possibility of rejection. Your body can fight off "invaders" such as bacteria and viruses. These same processes can attack your new kidney. Your doctor will prescribe you antirejection medication (immunosuppressants) to slow your body's defenses. Do not take any other medications unless you have discussed it with your transplant doctor first.
Side effects of antirejection medications include:
Returning to Normal
Depending on your recovery, it's possible that you could be back to work within three to eight weeks after your transplant surgery. Nutritionists and dieticians will advise you to eat a low fat and low salt diet to help you stay healthy.
If you or a loved one are thinking about a kidney transplant, begin your journey by learning what to expect at the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center.