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Overview of Kidney transplantation procedure
Posted on Jul 02, 2015
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.

Your kidneys remove excess fluid and waste from your blood. When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body - a condition known as kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease. A kidney transplant is often the best treatment for kidney failure.

Only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys, making living-donor kidney transplantation an option. If a compatible living donor isn’t available for a kidney transplant, your name may be placed on a kidney transplant waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor.

Complications related to kidney transplantation

Kidney transplant surgery carries a risk of significant complications, including:
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Leaking from or blockage of the tube (urethra) that links the kidney to the bladder
  • Infection
  • Failure of the donated kidney
  • Rejection of the donated kidney
  • An infection or cancer that can be transmitted with the donated kidney
  • Death, heart attack and stroke

Side effects of anti-rejection medicine

Post kidney transplantation, you will be prescribed medications to prevent your body from rejecting the donor kidney. These medications can cause a variety of side effects, including:

Preparation required for kidney transplantation

If your nephrologist suggests a kidney transplant, you may be referred to a transplant centre. When you’re considering transplant centres, you may want to:
  • Learn about the number and type of transplants the centre performs each year
  • Ask about the transplant centre’s patient and kidney survival rates

After you’ve selected a transplant centre, you’ll need an evaluation to determine whether you meet the centre’s eligibility requirements for a kidney transplant.

The team at the transplant centre will assess whether you:
  • Are healthy enough to have surgery and tolerate lifelong post-transplant medications
  • Have any medical conditions that would decrease transplant success
  • Are willing and able to take medications as directed and follow the suggestions of the transplant team

What to expect during kidney transplantation

Kidney transplants are performed with general anaesthesia, so you’re not aware during the procedure. The surgical team monitors your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen level throughout the procedure. During the surgery:
  • The surgeon makes an incision and places the new kidney in your lower abdomen. Unless your own kidneys are causing complications such as high blood pressure, kidney stones, pain or infection, they are left in place.
  • The blood vessels of the new kidney are attached to blood vessels in the lower part of your abdomen, just above one of your legs.
  • The new kidney’s urethra - the tube that links the kidney to the bladder - is connected to your bladder.

Kidney transplant surgery usually lasts about three to four hours.

What to expect post kidney transplantation

After your kidney transplantation, you can expect to:
  • Spend several days to a week in the hospital or clinic
  • Have frequent checkups as you continue recovering
  • Take medications like immunosuppressants the rest of your life


After a successful kidney transplant, your new kidney will filter your blood, so you will no longer need dialysis. Skin checkups with a dermatologist to screen for skin cancer and keeping your other cancer screening up to date are strongly advised.

About 98 percent of people who receive a living-donor kidney transplant live for at least one year after their transplant surgery. About 90 percent live for at least five years. However, if your new kidney fails, you can resume dialysis or consider a second transplant. You may also choose to discontinue treatment.

In India, around 3200 kidney transplants are performed every year and many more could be performed if more kidneys were available. The success rate for kidney transplants is excellent and higher than for other kinds of organ transplants at affordable cost.

In 2014, 17,105 kidney transplants took place in the United States. Of these, 11,570 came from deceased donors and 5,535 came from living donors.
Written by : Lazoi Team
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