by Editorial Staff and Contributors
A kidney transplant is a surgery to replace a diseased or damaged kidney with a donor kidney. The donor may be a relative or friend. The donor can also be someone who has died and donated the organs.
Reasons for Procedure
A kidney transplant is done to replace a kidney that is no longer working and cannot be fixed. It may also be done if the kidney has been removed. A kidney transplant is only needed if both kidneys are not working. Common causes of kidney failure include:
Possible Complications TOP
If you are planning to have a kidney transplant, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
There is a shortage of donors. You may be on a transplant list for some time. You may need to carry a cell phone with you at all times. This will allow the transplant team to reach you if a kidney becomes available.
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in your hand or arm.
Description of the Procedure
An incision will be made in the lower abdomen. The donated kidney will be connected to your arteries, veins, and ureter, which is the tube that carries the urine to the bladder. In most cases, a diseased kidney will be left in place unless it is is causing problems or if room is needed for the transplant. The incision will be closed. The new kidney may start producing urine right away or within a short time.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be closely monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU) and will have the following devices:
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will have pain during the recovery process. Your doctor will give you pain medication.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 1-2 weeks. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if you have complications.
At the Hospital
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will need to:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After the recovery process, you may be able to return to work and normal activities.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs. In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Urology Care Foundation
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Kidney Cancer Canada
The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Northern Alberta
Akbar SA, Jafri ZH, et al. Complications of renal transplantation. RadioGraphics. 2005; 25:1335-1356.
Halloran PF. Immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplantation. N Engl J Med.. 2004; 351: 2715-2729.
Kidney transplant. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneytransnewlease.cfm . Accessed August 27, 2013.
Kidney (renal) transplantation. American Urological Association Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urology... . Updated January 2011. Accessed August 27, 2013.
11/30/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Stock PG, Barin B, et al. Outcomes of kidney transplantation in HIV-infected recipients. N Engl J Med. 2010;363(21):2004-2014.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013