An Overview of the Kidney Transplant Process
Did you know that the average lifespan of a donated kidney is anywhere between 10 and 15 years? In the vast majority of cases, a transplanted kidney starts working immediately. It brings people that were previously on dialysis new opportunities and a lot of freedom.
The kidney transplant process itself is complex and consisting of various crucial steps. The following guide will give you an overview of the kidney transplant procedure and what happens during it.
A donor will first have to be found. This is usually one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of kidney transplants. The list of people waiting to get a kidney is long and usually, there aren’t enough donors.
The human body can function with just one kidney. This is why a family member will very often volunteer to donate a kidney. Blood and tissue samples have to be taken to figure out whether the potential donor is a good match. If a match is made, one kidney is taken from a relative and prepared for the transplant surgery.
Alternatively, a person in need of a kidney may get the organ from a deceased donor. These are healthy people that most commonly die because of an accident. Their organs are in ideal condition and in the case of family consent, these organs are taken and used to help patients in need of a transplant.
When the kidney is taken from an unrelated donor, there’s a slightly higher risk of organ rejection than in the case of a kidney coming from a relative. Still, this is a good possibility for individuals that have a rare blood type or no friends/relatives capable of donating an organ.
The Kidney Transplant Procedure
In the case of a kidney being donated by a family member, a doctor can take the time to schedule the upcoming surgery. If the organ is coming from a deceased donor, however, the operation will need to go about immediately.
General anesthesia has to be used for organ transplants. After the anesthesia takes hold, the surgeon will make an abdominal incision. If you have a malfunctioning kidney that hasn’t been removed yet, the organ will be taken out prior to the transplantation.
The donated kidney is placed in the lower abdominal region. The surgeon will then have to connect the new organ to blood vessels and arteries that will nourish the kidney. This is a delicate procedure that has to be performed impeccably. Next, the kidney ureter has to be attached to the bladder.
If necessary, the surgeon will insert a plastic tube known as stent in the ureter. This tube is important for maintaining the flow of urine during the first day of the new kidney’s functioning. If a stent is used, it will typically be removed in six to 10 weeks after the completion of the kidney transplant surgery.
Once the kidney is positioned and connected to both the circulatory system and the bladder, the incision will be closed either with surgical staples or stitches. The entire surgical procedure will last approximately three hours, unless there are some complications.
Individuals that have undergone kidney transplant surgery will need to recover in hospital settings for anywhere between seven and 10 days. Though most kidneys will start working immediately, in some instances the production of urine will require some time. If this is the case, the patient will have to undergo dialysis in the days after the surgery.
Medicines like diuretics are also used to help the new kidney flush out toxins from the body.
It’s very important for the patient’s immune system to be suppressed after the procedure. Otherwise, it may attack the new organ and cause rejection. Immunity suppressing medications are used for the purpose. Such medications need to be taken over the long run to keep the new kidney functioning.
After leaving the hospital, individuals that have undergone a kidney transplant surgery will need to go back on a regular basis for consultations and medical exams. The kidney function can easily be assessed through testing and a physician will be capable of determining whether there’s any risk of rejection. It is possible for the body to reject the organ after some time, which is why being monitored by an experienced urologist is essential for long-term kidney transplant success.