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Kidney Transplant

As they say “Nothing is indispensibleand so are our kidneys. Unfortunately, if our original kidneys give way, thankfully, they can be replaced with the newer ones. Read on to know the basics of kidney transplantation.


What is kidney transplant?

Kidney transplant is a major surgical procedure for patients whose kidneys have failed.   A healthy kidney from one person (donor) is placed in the body of the person (recipient) whose kidneys don’t work.


Who needs kidney transplant?

Patients who are diagnosed with “end-stage renal disease”, a stage of kidney failure so advanced that it cannot be reversed, are left with two options with them – dialysis and kidney transplant. Wherein, dialysis is a temporary and cumbersome process, kidney transplant scores over it for many people.


How kidney transplantation works?

The surgeon places the new kidney inside the lower abdomen, connecting the artery and vein of the new kidney to the patient’s set of renal artery and veins. The new kidney's ureter is also attached to the patient’s bladder, allowing the urine to pass out of the body.

 Once done, the blood starts flowing through the donated kidney, which also making urine. The newly planted kidney may start working right away or can take up to a few weeks to start functioning properly.


What about the failed kidney?

The original kidney is left intact in the body unless it becomes a cause of damaging effects in the body such as infection or high blood pressure.

Advantages of transplant over dialysis

Although dialysis is a life-saving treatment but it can only do 10 - 15% of the work of a normally functional kidney. Enlisted are advantages of transplant over dialysis:

  • Non-dependence on machine
  • Fewer restrictions on diet and fluid intake
  • For women¸ conception is not a problem (on dialysis, their cycles become an-ovulatory)
  • For men, erectile dysfunction which is usually associated with dialysis, gets corrected
  • An overall feeling of wellbeing prevails
  • Better longevity of life


Potential donors

There could be four possible donors:

Living related donors: Very close relatives - parents, siblings (brothers and sisters), children, and grandparents. These are considered ideal candidates for a successful transplant.

Cadaver or deceased donors: A cadaver kidney is removed from an individual who has been declared as brain-dead from any non-kidney related causes, such as an accident or a stroke. This is a relatively complicated option.

Emotionally related donors: When living related donors are found unfit and getting a cadaver kidney is not possible, emotionally related donors like spouse (husband/wife), cousins, uncles, aunts, or in-laws may donate a kidney.

Unrelated donors: When living related, cadaver, and emotionally related donors are not available or are found unfit, then unrelated donor kidney transplantation is be considered. In this chances of rejection are extremely high.



This happens when our body's immune system perceives the “new organ” as "foreign'' and attempts to destroy it. This is one of the major concerns and possible complication of a kidney transplant. The recipient will have to take immunosuppressive medications for the rest of his life to prevent rejection.


Other Probable risks:

Like any other major surgery, kidney transplant surgery also carries a risk of significant complications, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Leaking or blockage of the tube (ureter) that links the kidney to the bladder
  • Infection
  • Failure of the donated kidney
  • Dependence on immunosuppressants

Post-operative care:

Few things need to be taken care of post-surgery:

  • Start walking after two days to prevent clotting, pneumonia, and proper wound healing
  • Limited interaction with outside visitors
  • Repeated blood and diagnostic tests to be done
  • Maintain hygiene and take care of any cuts and scratches
  • Stay away from dust and pollen
  • Wear a mask while going out


Diet recommendations:

Eat a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet keeping in mind couple of these things:

  • Eat foods low in salt, sugar, fat, and high in fiber
  • Consume more of skinless poultry, fish, and beans
  • Read labels to strike out food high in saturated fat or cholesterol
  • Avoid foods that have lard, palm, and coconut oils
  • Avoid simple sugars found in colas, desserts, pastries, and candies

If one has habit of smoking, need to quit before surgery.

Watch Your Weight!

Often, after transplant, unwanted weight gain becomes a problem. This happens because the medication that the patient takes post-surgery causes hunger. It also changes the way our body utilises fat and sugar. Excessive weight gain can worsen complications such increased blood sugars and high blood pressure.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last modified: November 09, 2012