Kidney Transplants: A New Lease on Life

It goes without saying that kidney transplants, as with all organ transplant operations, are major surgical procedures. They are also more common than you might think; in 2014 alone, doctors in the United States performed over 17,000 kidney transplants. While numerous recipients have benefitted from new kidneys, this type of procedure is not without risk, and requires specific precautions prior to surgery.

Transplant Or Dialysis?

In short, a person receives a kidney transplant when he or she is faced with kidney failure. At this point, the kidneys can no longer remove wastes from the body, and the only realistic treatment options are kidney dialysis or a transplant operation. The former involves the use of either a machine or catheter to cleanse the kidneys of hazardous waste.

While dialysis treatment might seem to be the easier route to follow, a transplant is often considered to be the most effective option. According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney transplants are associated with the following results compared to dialysis:

  • Better quality of life
  • Lower risk of death
  • Fewer dietary restrictions
  • Lower treatment cost

A Thorough Review

Unfortunately, not everyone can withstand a transplant procedure without serious risk. Because of this, doctors will use X-rays, physical exams and various tests in order to gauge a prospective patient’s ability to handle a new kidney. In addition, a doctor might also decide to conduct a psychological evaluation and recommend a MRI or CT scan.

It bears mentioning that kidney transplant eligibility varies based on the transplant center in question. A potential recipient might not meet the criteria at one center, yet could later be approved for a transplant at another.

Under the Knife

Not surprisingly, kidney transplant operations require patients to be placed under general anesthesia during surgery. In other words, the recipient is completely unconscious during the procedure.

Once this first step is complete, the surgeon will then make an incision in the patient’s body, allowing for the donated kidney to be inserted into the lower abdomen. This shouldn’t be taken to mean that the recipients’ old kidneys are removed during the transplant. In fact, they are usually left alone unless they are causing major health problems, such as high blood pressure, kidney stones or infection.

With the kidney in position, the surgeon will then connect the organ’s blood vessels with vessels in the abdomen. Finally, the new kidney’s ureter is attached to the bladder, enabling the body to regularly move urine between the two organs.

The Recovery Process

Kidney transplant surgery is followed by an extended hospital stay, ranging from several days to a week. As you might expect, the incision site will likely be sore or painful while healing. The healing incision will prevent the recipient from lifting objects over ten pounds until the wound is healed. Exercise, with the exception of walking, is also prohibited. Most incisions for this procedure will require six weeks to heal fully.

After the patient is discharged from the hospital, the surgeon will closely document his or her health for the following few weeks. If necessary, the recipient’s post-surgical medications will be changed. To prevent the body’s immune system from rejecting and attacking the kidney, the patient will be required to take immunosuppres

Kidney transplant surgery is followed by an extended hospital stay, ranging from several days to a week. As you might expect, the incision site will likely be sore or painful while healing. The healing incision will prevent the recipient from lifting objects over ten pounds until the wound is healed. Exercise, with the exception of walking, is also prohibited. Most incisions for this procedure will require six weeks to heal fully.
After the patient is discharged from the hospital, the surgeon will closely document his or her health for the following few weeks. If necessary, the recipient’s post-surgical medications will be changed. To prevent the body’s immune system from rejecting and attacking the kidney, the patient will be required to take immunosuppressants on a permanent basis.

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