Kidney Transplantation is basically a surgical intervention which is performed to place a kidney either from a live or deceased donor into a patient whose kidneys do not any longer function properly. Kidneys are organs which remove excessive fluid & waste from blood. When kidneys lose ability to filter, dangerous levels of waste & fluid accumulate within the body. This condition is usually known as end-stage kidney disease or more commonly as kidney failure. Kidney transplantation is most often the best treatment solution for kidney failure. Since a person can comfortably live on a single kidney, only one donated kidney is required in order to replace two failed kidneys & which therefore conveniently makes living-donor kidney transplant a viable option. However, in case a compatible living donor is not available for kidney transplantation, the patient's name is usually placed on a kidney transplantation waiting list so as to receive a kidney from deceased donors. This wait usually takes a few years of time. Moreover, since organ transplantation is generally placed under regulation across the world, each country can be having a different set of laws governing them.
Kidney transplantation is normally used as treatment for end-stage kidney disease (kidney failure) which is a condition where the patient's kidneys can only function at a fraction of its normal capacity. Generally, people with kidney failure either need to have the wastes removed from blood stream through dialysis or undergo kidney transplantation in order to stay alive.
Common causes of kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease include the following.
Quite often it is possible to manage kidney disease with diet, medication & treatments for underlying causes. However, despite these steps if kidneys still cannot filter adequate blood, such patients may be good candidates for kidney transplantation.
Kidney transplantation surgery carries certain amount of significant complications including the following.
Following kidney transplantation, patients will need to take medications which are meant to help prevent their bodies from rejecting the donated kidney. However, these medications are also found to cause a variety of side effects including the following.
1. Choosing a Kidney Transplant Center
When doctors recommend kidney transplantation, the patient may be referred to a transplant center. Patients are also however free to select a transplantation center of their own choice. Nevertheless, when a kidney transplant patients are choosing a transplant center, they should consider the following factors while doing so.
After the patient has selected a transplant center, he/she will require an evaluation test in order to determine whether they meet the eligibility requirements for kidney transplant. For this purpose, healthcare team at the transplantation center will assess the following.
2. Finding a Donor for Kidney Transplant
Kidney donors can either be related or unrelated to the patient & living or deceased. The transplant center healthcare team will consider several other factors including blood & tissue types, while evaluating whether the living donor can be a good match for the patient. Family members are a good option & are often most likely to be compatible organ donors. Nevertheless, scores of people undergo successful kidney transplants with kidneys that are donated from people who are not at all related to them.
When a compatible living donor is unavailable, the patients name will be placed on a waiting list for deceased donor kidneys. Since there are fewer kidneys that are available & there are many people waiting for transplants, the waiting list keeps growing all the time. Normal waiting time for deceased donor kidneys is usually a few years of time.
Paired kidney donation can also be an option for patients if they have found someone to donate a kidney, but the blood & tissue of the donor is not compatible with the patient. In such a scenario, the donor can give this kidney to a person whose blood & tissue is compatible with the donor's kidney, while the patient receives a kidney from another kidney transplantee's donor.
3. Staying Healthy
Patients must take efforts to stay healthy, irrespective of whether they are waiting for a donated kidney or the transplant surgery is already scheduled. Staying healthy & being as active as they can be will make it more likely that they will be ready for kidney transplant surgery when it is time. This will also help them speed up recovery following surgery when it happens. For this reason they must follow the steps mentioned below.
Moreover, kidney transplant patients must stay in touch with the transplantation team & let them know about any significant changes in health. For patients who are waiting for donated kidneys, they must make sure that the transplantation team knows how to reach them at all times. They should keep their hospital bags packed & handy, & also make advance arrangements for transportation to the transplantation center.
Kidney transplantations are normally performed under the influence of general anesthesia, so that the patient is asleep during the procedure & will not feel a thing. Surgical team will usually monitor the patient's blood pressure, heart rate & blood oxygen levels throughout the kidney transplantation procedure.
Kidney transplantation surgeries usually last for about 3 - 4 hours of time.
Following kidney transplantation surgery, patients can expect the following.
Following a successful kidney transplantation procedure, the new kidney will filter blood so that the patient will no longer require dialysis. But in order to prevent the body from rejecting the new donor kidney, patients are required to take medications in order to suppress the immune system. Most likely, they will have to keep taking these drugs for the rest of their life. Since these medications are given to suppress the immune system & which will then make the body more susceptible to infection, doctors may also prescribe antifungal, antiviral & antibacterial medications to be taken along with immunosuppressant medications. Skin checkups with dermatologists to screen for skin cancer & also keeping up to date with other cancer screenings is strongly recommended following a successful kidney transplantation surgery.
In case the new kidney fails, patients can resume dialysis or even consider a second kidney transplantation procedure. Moreover, patients may also choose to discontinue treatment. However, this important medical decision depends upon the patient's current health condition & his or her ability to withstand surgery & the patient's other expectations for maintaining a certain quality of life.
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