Kidney Transplant: What You Need to Know
If you’re nearing the need for dialysis and would like to explore getting a transplant, start the discussion with your nephrologist. Your doctor will discuss the transplant process with you, which generally starts with being referred to a transplant center for further evaluation. While transplant requirements vary between centers, you’ll most likely undergo comprehensive medical tests to determine if you’re a viable candidate. If you are, then the search for a donor can begin.
Going in for surgery
You’ll be scheduled for surgery as soon as an appropriate organ match has been identified. In most cases, your surgeon will leave your kidneys in place and simply place the new, healthy kidney in a different location in your abdomen. You will remain in the hospital for several days after the surgery and be monitored for any complications.
Common transplant concerns
While your age and health conditions prior to the transplant surgery can affect the risk of complications, there are three common post-transplant concerns.
Rejection: Medication will be prescribed to help ensure your body accepts the new kidney.
Functionality: In some cases, the newly transplanted kidney begins working right away, while in others it may require dialysis for a few days before it starts functioning normally.
Organ lifespan: The average life span for a donated kidney is 10 to 15 years. When a transplant fails, a patient may opt for a second transplant or return to dialysis.
Taking care of your new kidney
Maintaining healthy habits and following your doctors’ recommendations is vital to help your new kidney function properly so you can have a better quality of life for years to come.
Will hemodialysis treatments fit my lifestyle?
Hemodialysis is an effective treatment when you have end stage renal disease (ESRD). However, HD is only one component of your comprehensive treatment plan, and you will need to make some adjustments to your everyday life. Be sure to follow your prescribed diet and fluid restrictions as well as your prescriptions, which may replace other functions of the kidney, such as regulating blood pressure and stimulating production of red blood cells to prevent anemia.
All dialysis treatments have their advantages and disadvantages. Based on your lifestyle and medical needs, you and your doctor can discuss your options and decide which one is right for you.