A kidney transplant is surgery to place a healthy kidney into a person with kidney failure.
Your kidneys are the organs primarily responsible for the removal of waste from your body (through the production of urine), as well as regulating blood pressures, blood volume and electrolyte imbalances.
If your kidneys fail, you will require treatment to continue the work of your kidneys. This can be dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The typical transplant recipient has end-stage kidney disease and is either on dialysis or close to needing it.
Common causes of end-stage kidney disease include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Polycystic kidney disease
A kidney transplant can prevent you from going on dialysis or decrease the amount of time you have to spend on dialysis. It can also help you gain independence, feel better and increase your lifespan.
Kidney Transplant: What to Expect
Once you are referred to the Abdominal Organ Transplant Program, you will be seen and evaluated by the transplant team. You will have several visits over several weeks or even months and you will need to have tests done, such as blood draws and X-rays.
If you are a good candidate for a kidney transplant, you will be put on a waiting list. Your place on the waiting list is based on a number of factors, including your current health and the likelihood that a transplant will be successful.
A person only needs one kidney to survive. So one donated kidney is needed to replace the work previously done by your kidneys.
The donated kidney may be from a deceased donor – a person who has recently died and has no known chronic kidney disease.
Or the donated kidney may come from a living donor. Living donors are generally family members or close friends, but could also be neighbors, church members or even a complete stranger. Learn more about the living donor program and the benefits of receiving a kidney from a living donor.
If you have diabetes, you may also need a pancreas transplant. These 2 transplants are often done at the same time.
If both the kidney and the pancreas come from a deceased donor, then both organs will be transplanted during one surgery.
If the kidney donor is living, the pancreas transplant will take place at a time after the kidney transplant.