A kidney transplant is done to replace a kidney that is no longer working and cannot be fixed. It may also be done if the kidney has been removed (eg, as cancer treatment). Kidney transplant is only needed if both kidneys are not working. The kidneys fail most often for the following reasons:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
There is a shortage of donors. You may be on a transplant list for some time. You may need to carry a cell phone with you at all times. This will allow the transplant team to reach you if a kidney becomes available.
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Review of medicines
Blood tests (including blood chemistries, liver function tests, bleeding profile, and infection testing)
Take medicines as directed. Do not take over-the-counter medicines without checking with your doctor.
The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Arrange for someone to drive you home. Also, arrange for someone to help you at home.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in your hand or arm.
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will cut into the lower abdomen. The donated kidney will be connected to your arteries, veins, and ureter (tube that carries the urine to the bladder). In most cases, the diseased kidneys will be left in place. The doctor will then close the incision. The new kidney may start producing urine right away or within a short time.
Immediately After Procedure
You will have a catheter left in your bladder. This catheter will be connected to a bag to collect urine.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will have pain during the recovery process. Your doctor will give you pain medicine.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 1-2 weeks. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer, however, if complications arise.
At the Hospital
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will need to:
Get out of bed the day after surgery.
Breathe deeply and cough 10-20 times every hour—This will help your lungs work better after surgery.
Take immunosupressive drugs—You will need to take these for the rest of your life. These drugs reduce the chance that your body will reject the new kidney.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Take medicine as advised by your doctor, which may include:
Steroid medicines to decrease inflammation in the new kidney
Diuretic medicines to help rid your body of built up fluid
Your new kidney needs to be monitored. Have tests and exams done as directed.
Weigh yourself daily. Also, measure the amount of fluids you take in and the amount of urine you pass.
Restrict the amount of salt and protein that you eat.
If advised by your doctor, avoid alcohol for at least one year.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
After the recovery process, you may be able to return to work and normal activities.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
Passing no or only small amounts of urine
Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
Vomiting, black or tarry stools, or diarrhea or constipation
Abdominal pain or cramping
Sore throat or mouth sores
Cough, shortness of breath, or any chest pain
Coughing up blood
Headache, confusion, dizziness, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness
Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a