If you’re nearing the need for dialysis and would like to explore getting a transplant, start the discussion with your nephrologist. Your doctor will discuss the transplant process with you, which generally starts with being referred to a transplant center for further evaluation. While transplant requirements vary between centers, you’ll most likely undergo comprehensive medical tests to determine if you’re a viable candidate. If you are, then the search for a donor can begin.
There are two types of organ donors: a living donor and a non-living, or cadaver, donor. Compatibility between a patient and the donor reduces the chances of organ rejection and can contribute to a more successful transplant. Additionally, because medication to help prevent organ rejection is so effective, donors don’t always have to be genetically similar to the recipient. If you don’t have a potential living donor, you will be placed on the waiting list for a cadaver organ. The wait for a transplant can vary greatly depending on the type of donation you receive and current health.
You’ll be scheduled for surgery as soon as an appropriate organ match has been identified. In most cases, your surgeon will leave your kidneys in place and simply place the new, healthy kidney in a different location in your abdomen. You will remain in the hospital for several days after the surgery and be monitored for any complications.
Common transplant concerns: While your age and health conditions prior to the transplant surgery can affect the risk of complications, there are two common post-transplant concerns.
Rejection: Medication will be prescribed to help ensure your body accepts the new kidney.
Functionality: In some cases, the newly transplanted kidney begins working right away, while in others it may require dialysis for a few days before it starts functioning normally.
Maintaining healthy habits and following your doctors’ recommendations is vital to help your new kidney function properly so you can have a better quality of life for years to come.
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