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Kidney Transplant: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2023

What is the treatment?

The kidneys are a pair of organs that are in the shape of two beans. Kidneys can be found in the human body in the lower back area. Toxic wastes are eliminated from the body by the kidneys when you are urinating. A person is diagnosed with kidney failure when his/her kidneys cannot remove the toxic wastes from the body like it used to.

Over time various health issues keep damaging your kidneys to a point where they stop working. The reasons that harm the kidney slowly are acute infections or illnesses, extreme dehydration and long-standing exposure to environmental pollutants. Other factors responsible for kidney damage are urinary tract infections, nephrotic syndrome, genetic disorders, heart diseases, autoimmune diseases, an infection such as sepsis, diabetes and hypertension or heartburn.

Symptoms of kidney failure do not show all of a sudden. It is a process much like slow poisoning where these organs are damaged a little every day. Therefore, you will only experience the symptoms when the kidneys are failing. The common signs of the body to indicate this will be itchy sensations, reduced appetite, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping at night, muscle aches, and inflammation in the limbs. In very severe cases if your kidneys suffer acute failure then you will experience diarrhoea, bleeding, vomiting, back pain, fever and skin rash.

How is the treatment done?

kidney transplantation is generally prescribed to patients who are in the last stage of their chronic kidney failure problem. Kidney transplantation is dependent on a donor. This can either be a dead or living person. When the kidney is gathered from a dead person it is called a deceased donor kidney and when it comes from a living person (usually it comes from a family member) it is called a living donor kidney. In case of the former, only healthy people are allowed to donate their kidneys and they need to be fully aware of the transplantation rules. In case of the latter, the kidney comes from a person who has passed away because of brain death.

Before the surgery begins, blood tests need to be run in order to match the blood type recipient and donor kidney. Next a tissue typing test is run to match the tissue type. Then tests are carried out on the donor to check if he/she has any viruses such as hepatitis, CMV or HIV.

After passing all these tests the patient undergoes surgery in the next stage. The surgery is performed under the administration of general anaesthesia and goes on for about 3 hours. The transplanted kidneys are placed in a location which is different to the location of the existing ones. This is called heterotopic transplantation. Usually the original kidneys will only be removed if they are extreme troubles such as infections or very blood pressure. The artery is surgically connected to the kidney.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

People who are in the last stage of Chronic kidney damage are eligible for treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who do not pass in any one of the tests conducted prior to the surgery are not-eligible for this treatment.

Also, people who have had a recent case of cancer, cardiovascular disorders, liver disease or severe infections such as bone infection or hepatitis are should not opt for this surgery treatment.

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Are there any side effects?

During the course of your kidney transplantation you may be given certain immunosuppressant to stop the body from rejecting the donated organ. These immunosuppressants could cause long-term side effects such as higher chances of infections, diarrhoea, excessive hair growth or hair fall, bleeding, swelling, abdominal cramps, acne, mood swings, anemia, arthritis, seizures, susceptibility to diabetes, risk of cancers and weight gain.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

As a follow up to the transplantation surgery the patient will be kept under strict monitoring to see if he/she is experiencing kidney rejection or any infection. For this reason the patients will be asked to take various anti-rejection medications in order to prohibit the body to reject the donated kidney and also ensure proper functioning of the transplanted kidneys.

How long does it take to recover?

After the transplantation surgery a person is usually held back in the hospital for about a week to notice any signs of infections or rejection on the part of the body.

After this the patient will be further asked to take rest for about 1-2 months during which time he cannot do any form of rigorous exercises or lift objects that are heavy in weight.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Kidney transplant surgeries in India cost around 2-3 lakhs approximately and the anti-rejection medications prescribed by the doctor will cost you around 300 to 3000 rupees.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Although the success rate of kidney transplantation surgeries are high, there are a few cases where a transplant can fail and not have permanent results. The reasons are formation of blood clots, the formation of an infection in the kidney, certain problems with the donated organ, rejection of the new kidney (this can be either acute or chronic). S, you can see that the results of the treatment are not always permanent.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The alternatives for kidney transplant surgery are haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis or conservative management treatment.

References

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Written ByDr. Rajeev Sarpal DNB - Urology/GenitoUrinary SurgeryUrology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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