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Kidney transplantation or renal transplantation is a surgical procedure carried out for replacing one or both diseased kidneys with healthy kidneys from a donor. Kidney transplantation is usually performed during acute kidney failure.
Who might need kidney transplantation?
The kidneys play an important role in our body by filtering waste from the blood and expelling it from the body through the urine. This process also helps maintain the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance. In the event of kidney failure, toxic wastes build up in the body making the person very sick. Dialysis is the common form of treatment undergone by patients with kidney failure. During dialysis, the waste accumulated in the bloodstream is filtered out mechanically. Kidney transplantation is done to free you from long term dependence on the dialysis machine. Dialysis could be time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Your doctor will examine you thoroughly to assess if you could be a candidate for kidney transplantation. If you have a serious medical condition like cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular disorder, or any other infectious conditions, you will not be allowed to opt for a kidney transplant. Once approved for a kidney transplant, either a family member can donate a kidney or your details will be entered on an organ recipient waiting list. The wait for a deceased donor organ is typically over five years.
Kidney donation and matching process
When the organ to be transplanted comes from a deceased or a brain dead person, it is called a deceased donor transplant. The donor or the family should elect to donate the organs to a waiting recipient.
When a healthy family member or a friend opts to donate a kidney to a loved one, it becomes a living donor transplant. The human body is capable of sustaining itself with a single kidney.
For a successful kidney transplant, the matching process is crucial. If there is a match between the donor and the recipient blood type and HLA (human leukocyte antigen), it is more likely that your body will not reject the new kidney.
Once a potential donor is identified, a test is done to make sure that the recipient’s antibodies will not attack the new organ. For this, a small portion of the donor and recipient blood is mixed together to evaluate the antibody reaction. The transplant can proceed if there is no antibody reaction from the donor side.
How is the kidney transplant performed?
What are the risks involved?
The most serious risk is a rejection of the new kidney by the body. However, the procedure is carried out only after confirming the donor's kidney is a perfect match. As the procedure is a major one, certain complications that could arise are:
Kidney transplantation is a complicated surgery that requires months of preparation, tests and waiting time of years to receive a compatible kidney for transplanting. Even after the procedure, the person should follow the doctor’s instructions strictly for best results.