Kidney Failure

Kidney transplantation

If kidney failure occurs and is non-reversible, kidney transplantation is an alternative option to dialysis. If the patient is an appropriate candidate, the health care practitioner will contact an organ transplant center to arrange evaluation to see if the patient is suitable for this treatment. If so, the search for a donor begins. Sometimes, family members have compatible tissue types and, if they are willing, may donate a kidney. Otherwise, the patient will be placed on the organ transplant list that is maintained by the United Network of Organ Sharing.

Not all hospitals are capable of performing kidney transplants. The patient may have to travel to undergo their operation. The most successful programs are those that do many transplants every year.

While kidney transplants have become more routine, they still carry some risk. The patient will need to take anti-rejection medications that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight infection. The body can try to reject the kidney or the transplanted kidney may fail to work. As with any operation, there is a risk of bleeding and infection.

Kidney transplants may provide better quality of life than dialysis. After one year, 95% of transplanted kidneys are still functioning and after five years the number is 80%. It seems that the longer a patient is on dialysis, the shorter the life of the transplanted kidney.

If the transplanted kidney fails, the alternative is another kidney transplant or a return to dialysis.

Reviewed on 7/14/2014