A kidney transplant is a treatment option for people who have
kidney failure. Kidneys perform vital work for the body. If they cannot work as needed it can lead to severe illness and death. The donor kidney can take over the work that the damaged kidneys can’t do.
A transplant may also be done in people who had both kidneys removed.
Your doctor will review potential problems. Potential problems from the transplant surgery may include:
Urine leakage into the body
Blood clot in kidney
Damage to kidney blood vessels or nerves
Damage to nearby organs
The immune system can attack the new kidney since it is foreign tissue. Medicine will be needed to decrease this reaction. Problems due to the immune system or medicine used to treat it can develop later. They may include:
Rejection of the new kidney which can lead to failure of the transplant
Side effects of immune suppressive medications including:
Infection by common bacteria
Infection from unusual causes such as viruses and fungi
Development of certain cancers, especially skin cancer and blood/lymphatic cancers
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
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.
Testing before the surgery may include:
Blood tests, including blood chemistries, liver function tests, bleeding profile, and infection testing
An incision will be made in the lower belly. The donated kidney will be connected to blood vessels. Blood flow can then pass to the new kidney. The tube that carries the urine to the bladder will also be attached.
The diseased kidney will often be left in place. It may need to be removed if it is causing problems. It may also be removed if more room is needed. The surgeon will close tissue at the incision. The new kidney may start making urine right away or within a short time.
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will need to:
Get out of bed. Often starts the day after surgery.
Breathe deeply and cough 10-20 times every hour. This will help your lungs work better after surgery.
Take medicine to decrease your immune system. This medicine will need to be continued for the rest of your life. It will reduce the chance that your body will reject the new kidney.
Wear special stockings. They may reduce the risk of blood clots that can form with bed rest.
The new kidney may help you feel better overall. Many will start to feel better within the first few days.
Your new kidney will need to be monitored. Your doctor may ask you to check your weight and urine output. You will need to go to regular doctor visits and tests to make sure the kidney is working well. It is also important to let your doctor know if you have changes in urine output, weight, or signs of rejection.
Pressure to the new kidney will need to avoided. Some activity will be limited. Driving will also be banned until your doctor has cleared you.
There will be some limits to your diet but not as many as you had for dialysis.