What You Need to Know About Kidney Transplants

What You Need to Know About Kidney Transplants

Kidneys are vital organs of the body that perform various functions, such as removing toxins from the body, maintaining electrolyte balance, and producing hormones. Kidney disease kills millions of people every year due to the crucial function of this organ. Around 10% of the population worldwide suffer from chronic kidney disease. According to WHO, in 2010, approximately 2.3 to 7.1 million patients suffering from end-stage renal disease (ESRD) died because they did not have dialysis access. Moreover, around 1.7 million patients die due to acute kidney injury every year. Many of these deaths can be prevented by performing kidney transplants. 

What is a Kidney Transplant?

A kidney transplant is a surgery that involves taking a healthy kidney from a living or dead donor and putting it in the place of a kidney that does not function anymore in the body of a recipient. It is essential to match the blood group and tissue type of the donor and recipient. Usually, the tissue type of close relatives matches with the recipients. However, people who are not related to you can also donate the kidney if the tissue type and blood group match. If this extensive testing is not performed accurately, there is a high chance of transplant rejection.

Why is a Kidney Transplant Necessary?

Many diseases damage the kidneys to the extent that they cannot perform vital functions. This process poses a threat to the patient’s life. In such a scenario, patients usually need regular dialysis, and the frequency of dialysis keeps increasing as the kidney function declines. Dialysis is not a comfortable procedure, and a patient can undergo a kidney transplant in order to stop dialysis. In other cases, the patient may have an end-stage renal disease (ESRD) where dialysis does not help anymore. A kidney transplant becomes crucial in such cases to save a patient’s life.

What is the Procedure of a Kidney Transplant?

The process starts with finding a matching donor. Extensive testing is carried out on both the donor and recipient to ensure that both are eligible for the procedure. A person can survive with a single kidney, and therefore, the donor can be living as well.

On the day of surgery, the surgeon will place an incision in the lower part of the abdomen on the side where the kidney needs to be transplanted. The damaged kidney is removed by cutting it off from the blood vessels and ureter. After that, the donor’s kidney is placed in the body and attached to the blood vessels and bladder. The surgeon then stitches the abdomen again. After the surgery, the patient stays in the hospital under observation. The patient takes medications to suppress immunity before and after this procedure. Doctors do this so that the recipient’s body’s immune system does not recognize the donor’s kidney as a foreign object and does not start attacking it. It can damage the transplanted kidney, and the procedure fails. The person who undergoes a kidney transplant has to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of his or her life. 

What Conditions can Lead to a Kidney Transplant?

Long-standing uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of permanent kidney damage. Some chronic inflammatory conditions of the kidney can also lead to the same. Similarly, sudden trauma to the kidneys, loss of blood supply, and severe infection may also require a transplant immediately.

Learn more about the importance of kidneys here.

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