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The kidneys are responsible for the elimination of waste from the body. The blood is filtered in the kidneys and all toxic wastes are filtered out and excreted through urine. When this filtration does not happen effectively, a lot of waste can be found in the blood, which affects normal body function.
Kidneys may lose their functioning either due to age, injury, or disease conditions. Whatever the reason, when kidney function is hampered, the body suffers. If there was an injury or congenital problem, it could be unilateral and the non-affected kidney could still do the function. However, if it is infection or old age, normally both kidneys are affected and then replacement should be looked for externally. This is where a kidney transplant comes into the picture.
What is it?
It is a surgery where a healthy, functioning kidney is placed into the body. The donor could be
- Living: These donors have to be related or unrelated. Related is often termed someone, who is a family member and is willing to donate one kidney (one kidney is sufficient for normal, healthy individuals) to the diseased person.
- Cadaver: If a person is willing to donate kidneys post death, these are used for transplant, within a specified time.
Identifying the right donor and recipient:
- Blood type and tissue type should be matched; a good tissue type match improves the chances of success
- Overall health of the donor to ensure there is no heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
- The recipient also should be healthy
What to expect during surgery?
- Once a donor is identified, in living donors, the surgery to remove the kidney and to transplant it are done simultaneously
- The surgery usually takes about 3 to 4 hours
- Antibiotics are given prior to the surgery to prevent infection
- The blood vessels and ureter are connected back to the kidney after the transplant
- Hospital stay can range from 5 days to 2 weeks, depending on the overall health of the patient and the anticipated risk of rejection.
- Most transplanted kidneys work effectively almost immediately. A kidney stored from a cadaver may take a little longer compared to a fresh kidney from a living donor
- People who have had transplants are put on immunosuppressants on a chronic basis to reduce chances of rejection. The new kidney will always be recognised by the body as a foreign body, and so this is essential.
Kidney transplant success rates are quite high, and more and more people are opting for transplants as opposed to dialysis. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a nephrologist.