Kidney transplantation or Renal transplantation is the best method to treat kidney failure or End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
When a physician confirms that you require a kidney transplant, you can get in touch with the Kidney Transplant Office to schedule a pre-transplant evaluation. This evaluation, which usually takes only a day, comprises a comprehensive physical examination and consultations with members of your personal transplant team. Once the evaluation is completed, your name will be put up on the organ waiting list to get a suitable living donor. The transplant team will contact you if a suitable donor kidney becomes available.
Where does a kidney come from?
Kidneys for transplantation come from two sources namely; living donors, or non-living or cadaveric donors. Living donors are generally immediate family members or at times spouses. Cadaver kidneys are usually obtained from individuals who have willfully pledged their kidneys before their death by signing organ donor cards. The descendant’s family can also provide permission for donation of kidney at the time of his/her death. All donors are cautiously examined to prevent any transmissible diseases.
How is the right kidney found for me?
Determining whether or not a donated kidney could be tolerated by your body is extremely important for the success of the transplant. For this, it is crucial that your blood type and the donor’s blood type as well as the tissue types are compatible. An HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigens) blood test is used to determine your unique tissue type.
A blood test will also be conducted in order to determine the presence of antibodies in the tissue. The blood test will also help to check for compatibility with the potential donors. Antibodies refer to substances that the body produces for destroying foreign materials.
Kidney transplant: The procedure
Kidney transplantation is a procedure that involves replacing a failing kidney in your body with healthy ones so that it can perform all the required functions properly.
The new kidney is positioned on the lower right or left side of your abdomen. It is surgically attached to the surrounding blood vessels and the bladder. The vein and artery of the new kidney are connected to the other veins and arteries in your body. The new kidney’s ureter is connected to your bladder which enables the urine to pass out of your body.
Benefits of kidney transplantation
- Enhanced strength and energy.
- Patients can resume to a more normal lifestyle.
- You can continue a normal diet and consume more of fluids.
- You will have more freedom after the surgery because you won’t be restricted by your dialysis schedules.
- Certain conditions such as anemia and hypertension (high blood pressure) might be corrected after kidney transplantation.
Risks of kidney transplantation
- Breathing problems.
- Chances of the new kidney being rejected by the body. However, you would be administered medication to prevent rejection.
Recovery from Kidney Transplant Surgery
Here are some general guidelines which you need to follow to ensure a faster recovery. These include:
- Do not lift heavy objects and avoid strenuous physical work for at least six to eight weeks after the surgery.
- Do not consume alcohol or liquor for at least six weeks after the surgery.
- Daily exercises which include stretching exercises, walking, bicycling, tennis, swimming, and aerobics are recommended. However, rough contact sports must be avoided.
In most cases, kidney transplant patients can resume their normal activities within a few months after a successful surgery.
Recommendations for female transplant patients
Rejection of the new kidney by the body and high blood pressure are two major risks a woman might experience for at least one year following kidney transplant surgery. Hence, it is extremely important to prevent a pregnancy during this period by taking the necessary precautions. However, you can have a healthy pregnancy later.
Moreover, if a transplant patient becomes a mother, she should not breastfeed her baby as the immunosuppressive medicine administered after kidney transplantation can pass through the mother’s breast milk to the infant. This can cause serious harm to the baby.
Immunosuppressive medicine prescribed during kidney transplantation could result in increased susceptibility to different types of cancer. So, female transplant patients should take an annual PAP test (a test to detect cervix cancer) and a mammogram.
Recommendations for male transplant patients
Male transplant patients might sometimes experience difficulty with erections following the surgery. This could be the result of a reduction in the flow of blood to the penis, or due to a transplant medicine. In most of the cases, this situation can be rectified.