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Kidney transplant surgery is considered safe, and is usually very successful. A successful kidney transplant depends on how healthy you are before the transplant, taking care of yourself after your transplant, and closely following your doctors’ orders after the transplant.
You can get this type of transplant by being on the national waiting list.
A living donor kidney transplant is a surgery to give you a healthy kidney from someone who is still alive. This is possible because each person only needs one healthy kidney to live. A person with two healthy kidneys can donate one kidney to a person with kidney failure. A living donor can be a family member, friend or even a stranger!
Kidneys from living donors can sometimes last almost twice as long as kidneys from deceased donors. On average living kidney donor transplants last 15-20 years. How long your kidney will last depends on many factors, but the most important is how well you take care of it. To help your new kidney last as long as possible, you must take your medicine every day, as many times a day as your doctor tells you, and at the times your doctor tells you. Skipping your medicine can cause your new kidney to stop working.
Before you can have a living donor kidney transplant, you will need to have an evaluation at your transplant center. The evaluation will help the transplant team figure out if transplant is a good option for you.
You will also have tests that will help the doctors gather information about your kidneys, so that they can make sure your donor’s kidney is a good match for yours.
There are two types of living donation:
To receive a living donor kidney transplant, you will need to find someone who is willing and able to give you his or her kidney. A friend or family member may offer to give you one of his or her kidneys, or you might have to take the first step and ask a friend or a family member if he or she would be willing to be a kidney donor. It can be difficult to know how to start a conversation about organ donation. The United Network for Organ Sharing has some useful tips on how to have these conversations.
Some people do not have a friend or family member who is willing, or able to donate a kidney. Your transplant team may be able to help you find a donor who you do not know, or you may be able to participate in a paired kidney exchange.
If you have a donor who is willing and able to give you a kidney, you can have your transplant as soon as both you and your donor are ready. Keep in mind that being ready for transplant sometimes depends on things that are out of your control, such as other health problems you or your donor may have. Talk to your transplant team to find out if there is anything you need to do to get ready for transplant.
If you do not have a donor, you may have to wait years for a transplant. The average waiting time for a deceased donor transplant is 3 to 5 years. You may look for a living donor while you wait for a deceased donor kidney and have your transplant using whichever kidney is available first.
Alice wants to give a kidney to Andrew, but they’re not a good match. Bill wants to give a kidney to Betsy, but they’re also not a good match. However, Alice is a good match for Betsy and Bill is a good match for Andrew. So, Alice donates her kidney to Betsy, and Bill donates his kidney to Andrew. That way, everyone who needs a kidney gets one.
Paired kidney donation (or paired exchange) is an option when you have a relative or friend who is willing and able to be a kidney donor, but he or she is not a match for you. In a paired exchange, your relative or friend gives a kidney to someone who needs it, and that recipients’ relative or friend gives his or her kidney to you. Look at the picture below to understand how this works.
Talk to your transplant team if you are interested in participating in a paired exchange.
Certain transplant centers now offer incompatible kidney transplants, which are done when the donor kidney has a blood type or antibodies that do not match well (are incompatible with) the recipient’s (the person getting the kidney). Transplant doctors use special methods to make the recipient’s body less sensitive to the donor’s unmatched (incompatible) blood or antibodies. Talk to your doctor about whether this could be an option for you.
Most people who have kidney transplants get their new kidney from a deceased donor. A deceased donor is someone who has just died. This person or their family members decided to donate healthy organs at the time of death in order to benefit people who need transplants. No matter how the person died, his or her kidney will only be given to you if it is healthy and likely to work in your body.
On average, deceased kidney donor transplants last 10-15 years. Your transplanted kidney might work for less time or more time. How long your kidney will last depends on many factors, but the most important is how well you take care of it. To help your new kidney last as long as possible, you must take your medicine every day, as many times a day as your doctor tells you, and at the times your doctor tells you. Skipping your medicine can cause your new kidney to stop working.
Before you can have a living donor kidney transplant, you will need to have an evaluation at your transplant center. The evaluation will help the transplant team figure out if transplant is a good option for you. If the transplant team decides you are healthy enough for a transplant, you may be added to the national waitlist.
Most people wait for three to five years for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. You might wait for more time or less time. Your wait time might depend on where you live, the availability of a matching kidney in your area, how long you have been on dialysis, your age, and more. Ask your doctor for more information about the things that can affect your wait time.
If a kidney becomes available from a deceased donor, you will get a phone call from the transplant center asking you to come to the hospital right away. It is very important that you are always reachable by phone. If you intend to travel, tell your transplant team about your travel plans.
When you arrive at the hospital, you will have blood tests to make sure that the kidney is a good match for you. Sometimes people get to the hospital and, after having these tests, have to return home because the donor kidney is not a good match. The transplant could also be canceled if the doctors find something is wrong with the donor kidney. If you are called to the transplant center and then cannot have a transplant, try not to be discouraged. You might get another call soon!
A person’s spot on the waiting list depends on the patient’s medical urgency, blood, tissue and size match with the donor, time on the waiting list and proximity to the donor. Under certain circumstances, special allowances are made for children. For example, children under age 11 who need kidneys are automatically assigned additional points. Factors such as a patient’s income, celebrity status, and race or ethnic background play no role in determining allocation of organs.
Contrary to popular belief, waiting on the list for a transplant is not like taking a number at the deli counter and waiting for your turn to order. In some respects, even the word “list” is misleading; the list is really a giant pool of patients. There is no ranking or patient order until there is a donor, because each donor’s blood type, size and genetic characteristics are different. Therefore, when a donor is entered into the national computer system, the patients that match that donor, and therefore the “list,” is different each time.
The other major guiding principal in organ allocation is: local patients first. The country is divided into 11 geographic regions, each served by a federally-designated organ procurement organization (OPO), which is responsible for coordinating all organ donations. With the exception of perfectly matched kidneys and the most urgent liver patients, first priority goes to patients at transplant hospitals located in the region served by the OPO. Next in priority are patients in areas served by nearby OPOs; and finally, only if no patients in these communities can use the organ,
The surgery generally takes up to 2-3 hours.
There are different levels of rejection preceding transplant. After kidney transplantation, your body will reject the kidney to some extent because your body sees the new organ as a foreign object that it isn’t used to. It will take some time for the body to fully accept the new kidney. A recipient can function quite well if there is a small amount of rejection in the kidney. However, if the new liver is failing fatally, then a second or even third transplant may occur. Anti rejection medication is also distributed to help the new kidney function.
Depending on how healthy the recipient is and their age, there is a 90 to 95% success rate after kidney transplant. Kidney transplants are also the most successful organ transplant around the world.
Other than transplantation, dialysis is one of the only other options in place of a kidney transplant. Dialysis is a process that cleanses your blood. There are several different types of dialysis, depending on the patient’s condition. Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis have been done since the mid- 1940’s. Dialysis, as a regular treatment, was begun in 1960 and is now a standard treatment all around the world.
Risks may include kidney rejection, infection, bleeding, blood clots, heart attack, stroke, damage to other organs, reaction to the anesthesia (which may include problems breathing), and failure of the donor kidney.
You will be admitted to the hospital the morning of surgery and you will go through a physical examination, including blood work, chest X-ray, and EKG. If all goes well, you will be okay for surgery, but there are times that the patient has been sent home. If you pass the physical exam, the doctor will administer you IV fluids and answer your remaining questions. You will then be escorted to surgery and the anesthesiologist will sedate you. Once you are fully asleep, you will be given a breathing tube to help you breathe during surgery and a catheter will be placed into your bladder. The surgery then begins.
A person can lead an active, normal life with only one kidney. Studies have shown that one kidney is sufficient to keep the body healthy. After recovering from surgery, a donor can work, drive, exercise and participate in sports, though contact sports are not recommended. A donor can continue in all types of occupations, including military duty. Also, being a donor does not impact a person’s ability to have a child.
Yes you can, though you will still need to go through the evaluation process. It is a good idea to think about why you want to donate and the effects it may have on your relationship post-transplant.
All patients experience some pain and discomfort after a surgical procedure, and as with any major operation, there are risks involved. It is possible for kidney donors to develop infections or bleeding, and when a portion of the liver or pancreas is donated, the liver or spleen could be injured.
You will have a scar from the donor operation- the size and location of the scar will depend on the type of operation you have.
Some donors have reported long-term problems with pain, nerve damage, hernia, or intestinal obstruction. There are not currently any national statistics on the frequency of these problems.
In addition, people with one kidney may be at a greater risk of: <ul> <li>High blood pressure</li> <li>Proteinuria</li> <li>Reduced kidney function</li> </ul>
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