A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure appropriate for patients with end-stage kidney disease or kidney failure. It is likely the last and best possible treatment for these patients. A kidney transplant replaces a patient’s diseased, nonfunctional kidney with a healthy donor kidney. The new kidney assumes the function of waste removal, which cleanses the blood.
What is it?
Kidney transplants are often chosen over dialysis when patients with kidney failure wish to increase their quality of life instead of remaining on dialysis, which requires a strict diet and recurring dialysis sessions.The national average waiting time is around 6-12 months. There are two different methods of kidney transplants that are contingent on the kidney donor. Donor kidneys may come from a consenting, living family member or from a recently deceased donor who is unrelated to the patient’s family.
What should I do to prepare?
The patient’s top priority is finding an appropriate donor, either living or deceased, with whom they will likely be compatible. After securing a donor, it is important that the patient remains in good health to facilitate a healthy transplant. Before the surgery, the patient will receive multiple chest/abdomen scans, blood tests, and possibly an enema to cleanse the intestines. Any hair on the stomach and chest needs to be shaved as well. Before the surgery can commence, the patient will have to receive tests, blood work, EKG, chest x-ray, and a physical exam upon admission to the hospital to ensure that he or she is in good health. Patients that are not in good health will be sent home, and the surgery will be rescheduled to a time when they are in better health.
What happens during the process?
Once the tests are finished, the patient prepares for surgery by completing the enema and shaving hair from the upper body. General anesthesia, which completely sedates the patient, is used for this operation. The surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen through which the donor kidney is to be placed. The donor kidney’s blood vessels are connected to the patient’s arteries and veins as well as the ureter to the bladder. If any excess fluid accumulates during the procedure, a drain is used to remove it before the patient’s incisions are closed.
What are the risks and potential complications?
The greatest danger for kidney transplantation is rejection, which is when the body rejects the foreign kidney. The body’s immune system identifies the kidney as foreign and attacks it. If this occurs, the patient will have to take immunosuppressants to stop the immune system from rejecting the transplant. If this does not work, a second transplant may be necessary. Kidney transplant includes other risks, which include, but are not limited to, recurrent kidney disease, infection, donor kidney defects, fluid collection, and blood clots.
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