Kidney Transplant Surgery - Another Chance At Life
Kidney transplant surgery is one of the life-altering treatment methods to ensure long-term survival in patients suffering from kidney failure. A patient healthy enough to undergo a kidney transplant might someday no longer need dialysis. That would free up a slot for a new patient. Kidney replacement or renal transplant is a surgical procedure in which a healthy kidney from one person is transferred to the person whose kidneys have stopped functioning.
But how does a kidney transplant work? In this article, we will discuss how transplant surgery works as an effective mode of kidney replacement, kidney transplant success rate, and various processes involved before transplant surgery.
How Does Kidney Transplant Surgery Work?
The kidney is transplanted from the donor under two circumstances (1) when the donor is alive and healthy without health complications and has provided consent to donate their organ and (2) when the donor is dead due to heart or brain failure, where the kidneys are working correctly.
Family members, partners and friends can be considered for live organ donation, provided the donor is healthy without any major health complications and has a blood type compatible with the recipient.
Kidney transplant surgery is performed by giving general anesthesia to the patient. During Kidney transplant, a healthy kidney is placed into the body, where it performs all of the functions that a failing kidney cannot. The new kidney is placed on the lower right or left side of your abdomen where it can be easily connected to blood vessels and the bladder. The artery and vein that carries blood to and away from the new kidney are surgically connected to your vein and artery of the pelvis. The new kidney's ureter is connected to your bladder which allows urine to pass out of your body. Your surgeon will not remove your own kidneys unless it is required.
Kidney replacement surgery can correct all disturbances in your metabolism and restore normal kidney functions. However, a major downside is that it requires taking immunosuppressants like tacrolimus or mycophenolate mofetil throughout your life. This is because your immune system perceives the transplanted organ as a foreign body and starts attacking it.
Benefits Of Kidney Transplant Surgery:
a. Freedom from dialysis treatment:
Though dialysis treatment is effective as it performs kidney function on its behalf, it is a time-consuming process that interferes with daily life. Kidney transplant surgery can be a good alternative if you feel dialysis treatment is consuming your time and energy.
b. Increased energy levels:
Compared to other kidney replacement therapies, a renal transplant will make you feel fresher and more energetic. You are less likely to feel extreme tiredness once your operation is successful.
c. Fewer diet restrictions:
We all know that kidney disease patients have to follow severe fluid restrictions and control their protein intake. However, this is not the case in patients who have undergone a kidney transplant.
d. Increased life expectancy with better quality of life:
Successful transplantation offers a better quality of life without the need for dialysis treatment. You will experience a sense of freedom and an improved quality of life.
e. Ability to start working:
Extreme tiredness and weakness are two of the most commonly faced symptoms by kidney disease patients due to which maintaining a work-life balance is quite challenging. This issue can be resolved once the patient undergoes a kidney transplant.
Kidney Transplant Success Rate:
According to a study, adult kidney transplantation has the highest success rate among other major surgical procedures and it increases the patient’s chances of survival. The average survival period after a person undergoes a cadaveric transplant is 7 years. This effect is said to be higher in living donor transplants.
Kidney transplant patients are at a lower risk of death by 41% compared to those on the waiting list. The kidney transplant success rate also depends on your health status and age before transplant and how well you take care of yourself following transplant.
How Do You Know If You Are Eligible For Kidney Replacement Surgery?
Some of the conditions that deem you ineligible for transplant are as follows:
- Substance abuse
- Heart or lung disease
- Mental unpreparedness
- Age below 1 year or more than 75 years
Evaluation Tests For Kidney Transplant Surgery:
Irrespective of whether your organ donor is alive or not, you will have to undergo some evaluation procedures to check your eligibility for transplant. This is to ensure that kidney transplant surgery is safe for you. Your assessment will take place in the outpatient department, where you will meet a team of medical professionals consisting of a kidney specialist (nephrologist), transplant surgeon (donor and recipient), coordinator, anaesthetist, dietician.
- Screening tests for lung functions, diabetes and other health aspects.
- Screening for cancer: The presence of cancer is a huge contraindicating factor that makes a person ineligible to undergo kidney replacement surgery. Hence, screening methods to detect cancer in the colon, breasts, cervix, and prostate are necessary before proceeding further to ensure safety.
- Dental and eye examination: The medicines you might need to take after transplant put you at an increased risk of getting infections. If you have an active infection, it is advisable to correct it immediately. Your dentist might consider removing a tooth that has a problem.
- Chest X-ray and ECG to check your heart condition
- Renal ultrasound to check the shape and size of your kidneys using sound waves.
Kidney Matching Tests:
a. HLA antigen test:
HLA typing is a form of tissue typing that evaluates various markers present at the surface of your cells. These antigens are inherited from your parents and are unique for each individual. A perfect match has 6 attributes common in donor and recipient.
b. The crossmatch test:
This is the final part of the kidney transplant process. Your healthcare professional will draw blood from you and your donor to predict how you will respond to the transplanted kidney. This test is done right before the transplant procedure.
A positive result indicates that your body will reject the transplanted kidney, and, in such cases, the renal transplant procedure will not take place. Your healthcare professional will proceed with surgery only if the test result is negative.
After completing the evaluating tests, your healthcare team will review the results to ensure that your health status meets their set of guidelines to consider you eligible for transplant surgery. Certain vaccines will be administered to you to protect you from the risk of getting infections after a transplant.
Possible Complications Of Kidney Transplant Surgery:
Some of the difficulties that are likely to occur after kidney transplant surgery are:
- Blood clot formation
- Possibility of infections
- Nerve damage
- Heart problems
Staying Healthy After Kidney Replacement Surgery:
It is essential to implement a disciplined lifestyle after your renal transplant. Though you may not have severe diet restrictions like before, you may need to pay attention to the nutrients in your food intake. Take all the medications exactly as prescribed by your physician without missing a dose. Do not miss the follow-up health check-up appointments.