A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure in which a diseased or malfunctioning kidney is removed from a patient, and replaced with a healthy kidney taken from a kidney donor. Healthy kidneys are secured from a living donor, or a deceased organ donor. A kidney transplant is a life-saving procedure for patients diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. Kidney transplants are performed when a kidney fails, or pre-emptively – before the kidney fails.
What factors affect kidney function?
There are two primary factors that negatively affect kidney function: diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Individuals with diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure may experience chronic kidney disease that eventually requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. Over time, both of these conditions can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys, including diminished function or complete kidney failure.
Along with diabetes and high blood pressure, other factors can diminish kidney function or lead to end-stage renal disease, including:
- Chronic kidney infections.
- Polycystic kidney disease.
- Untreated kidney stone disease.
- Urinary tract abnormalities.
- Obesity – Obesity contributes to high blood pressure and diabetes.
Kidney transplant procedure
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that is performed at a hospital or surgical center under general anesthesia. This is a time consuming procedure that involves the kidney recipient, a kidney donor (if living), and a transplant team.
To assist the kidney recipient and donor make a final decision about proceeding with this surgery, members of the transplant team will discuss the following:
- How long they will be in the operating room.
- How long they will be in the hospital after the operation.
- Potential risks.
- How long their recovery time will be.
- Possible organ rejection.
Potential kidney donors are interviewed by members of the transplant team before they make a final decision to donate. Donors require an extensive physical workup to make sure they are in good overall health, and that they are eligible to donate. Pre-testing for potential donors will include:
- Blood tests.
- Physical examination.
- Heart clearance – A cardiologist will need to provide clearance to confirm the donor can tolerate anesthesia.
- Kidneys – The donor’s kidney must be in excellent condition, and functioning properly.
A kidney donor must be able to physically sustain the loss of a kidney. Typically, kidney donors are individuals who have excellent health and have practiced good lifestyle choices.
Kidney recipients undergo a thorough physical examination prior to making a final decision about receiving a donated kidney. A good candidate must be able to physically tolerate the operation, anesthesia, and receiving a donated kidney. In most cases, kidney recipients have been on kidney dialysis, which may have comprised their overall health. Kidney dialysis patients will need to be managed before and after the operation.
Kidney transplantation is a major surgery for both the donor and the recipient. Before proceeding with the operation, both parties will be made aware of potential risks in order to weigh the risks against the benefits.
- Blood loss – Excessive blood loss during the operation may require a blood transfusion.
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia.
- Organ failure or rejection.
- Development of blood clots.
- Injury – With any surgery, there is a risk of injurying adjacent organs in the area where the operation is occurring.
Moving forward with a kidney transplant is a major decision. If you or a loved one are facing this decision, contact Urology Austin to schedule a consultation with one of our urologists.