Kidney transplantation

What is kidney transplantation?

Kidney transplantation is a surgery that involves placing a healthy kidney in a person with kidney failure. To be able to perform it, a kidney donated by a healthy individual is needed and it can come from a living donor, related or not to the patient, or from a deceased person. The option of a living donor transplant is valid since only one kidney is needed to replace the function of both, but it must be compatible.

Kidney transplantation offers a number of advantages over other treatments:

  • Better quality of life
  • Fewer dietary restrictions
  • Lower risk of death
  • Lower cost of treatment
  • Increased energy
  • Better overall health

Why is it performed?

This treatment is indicated for patients suffering from end-stage renal disease. A kidney transplant should not be performed if the patient has an infection; has liver disease, heart disease or a life-threatening illness; has a recent history of cancer; or abuses tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.

When the kidneys have lost approximately 90 percent of their ability to function normally is when we use the term end-stage renal disease. The most common causes of this pathology are:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease

The kidney transplant operation is technically simple.

What does it involve?

During the operation, the surgeon connects the renal artery and veins from the lower abdomen to the new kidney. The transplanted kidney begins to produce urine as soon as the blood begins to flow and performs the same function as the kidney that was deficient, so dialysis treatment can be stopped. In other cases, it may take a few weeks for the kidney to start functioning normally.

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The nephrology specialist will explain the procedure and any questions the patient may have.

Preparing for the kidney transplant

Once the medical specialist refers the patient to a transplant center, a team will evaluate and examine the patient to verify that he or she meets the requirements for a kidney transplant. The patient will undergo various examinations and tests such as: histotyping and blood typing, heart tests, and tests for infections. Once it is indicated that the patient meets all the requirements, he/she will be placed on a waiting list. Most people waiting for a kidney transplant undergo dialysis treatment in the meantime.

While the patient is on the waiting list, it is important that he/she does not smoke or drink alcohol. In addition, he/she must maintain the weight recommended by the medical specialist by following the diet indicated to him/her. It is also important to take the medication prescribed by the doctor. A patient suffering from kidney failure will not be able to undergo a kidney transplant in the following cases:

  • He/she is of advanced age
  • He suffers from severe heart disease or poorly controlled mental illness.
  • Dementia
  • Active or recently treated cancer
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Other reasons that may affect the procedure and subsequent medication intake

Care after the operation

The operation is technically simple and after the operation, the patient can lead a normal life. He will, however, need to take medication for the rest of his life to prevent his body from rejecting the new kidney.

The patient will have to stay in the hospital for a period of three to seven days. He will then undergo regular check-ups and blood tests for the next two months.

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Alternatives to this treatment

At present, although various studies are being carried out, the only alternative is dialysis. Kidneys that are not functioning properly lose their filtering capacity, accumulating harmful levels of fluid and waste in the body. This causes patients to have high blood pressure and kidney failure. These wastes are removed from the bloodstream through a machine (dialysis) that allows you to stay alive. Kidney transplantation offers major advantages over this treatment, improving your life expectancy and quality of life.