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Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant is surgery to place a donated kidney into your body. This kidney takes over the job of filtering your blood. The transplant is the treatment closest to having your own healthy kidney.

Finding a New Kidney

The new kidney may come from a living person (living donor), usually a family member. A kidney may also come from a person who has recently died (deceased donor). There is a waiting list for kidneys from deceased donors ranging from months to years, depending on your blood type.

Preparing for Surgery

Many tests are done to be sure a person can be a donor. You and your donor will be told how to prepare for surgery.

Outline of human abdomen showing failed kidneys in upper abdomen and bladder in pelvis. Transplanted kidney is in pelvis near bladder. Ureter connects transplanted kidney to bladder. Artery and vein are connected to transplanted kidney.

The Transplant Surgery

  • The surgery usually takes about 3–6 hours.

  • All kidneys are screened for disease before the transplant.

  • In most cases, your old kidneys will not be removed. This is because even failed kidneys release chemicals that help your body work.

  • The new kidney is placed in the lower part of your abdomen near your groin.

  • The new kidney is attached to nearby blood vessels. Blood can then flow through to be filtered.

  • The ureter is connected to your bladder to let urine flow out.

Recovering from Surgery

You (and any living donor) will recover in the hospital after surgery. The donor may stay in the hospital for up to a week. You may stay longer. Your new kidney may start to work right away or may take a week or two. You will be told what to do and what not to do while you’re healing.

After Your Surgery

You will need to take medications to keep your body from rejecting your transplanted kidney. These will be needed for the rest of your life. Your healthcare team will discuss possible side effects of these medications with you.

Notes to the Donor

Here are some things to know before donating a kidney:

  • You can only donate if your blood type is compatible with the recipient’s. Other types of “matching” may also be done. The testing process may require a hospital stay of 24–48 hours.

  • You will be given a thorough medical checkup to be sure you’re healthy enough to donate.

  • The kidney you donate may be removed in traditional “open” surgery, or in a laparoscopic procedure through a smaller incision.

  • When one of your kidneys is removed, the other kidney will take over and keep you healthy.

  • Some of the costs of donating a kidney are covered by the recipient’s insurance.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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