We are all aware that organs can be donated, but most of us think this can only be done after death. But what if there were organs could donate while still alive? A single kidney and part of the liver can actually be donated while the donor is still alive and this won’t significantly impact their health.
Kidney donations and kidney transplants are the most common type of transplantation surgery and yet there is still a stark imbalance between the number of people waiting for a transplant and the number of donor organs available for transplantation.
So what do you need to know about a kidney transplant? Let’s start at the beginning
The Kidneys And Their Various Functions
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs situated on either side of the spine, in the upper-middle of the back. The kidneys are essentially responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood and maintaining the water and electrolyte balance in the body. Almost everyone has two kidneys but a single kidney is capable of doing the work of two kidneys if needed. This is why a kidney can be donated even when the donor is still alive and healthy.
Who Needs A Kidney Transplant And Who Can Donate?
Kidney transplants are usually needed for people with severe renal failure, end-stage kidney disease, or those with congenital complications that affect their renal functions. A kidney specialist such as a nephrologist or urologist evaluates patients for transplantation.
Most kidney specialists recommend kidney transplantation primarily for people with end-stage renal disease, regardless of the underlying cause which can be diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, genetic conditions like polycystic kidneys, inborn errors of metabolism, and autoimmune conditions like lupus.
Anyone who is healthy can donate a kidney. The donor has to undergo thorough medical and psychological screening to ensure that they are fit for surgery.
Kidney transplants help people get off dialysis and improves quality of life while decreasing the risk of mortality.
Who Conducts A Kidney Transplant?
A kidney transplant is a complex surgical procedure. For the health and safety of both the donor and the recipient, kidney transplants are conducted by a transplant team and not one to two surgeons.
The transplant team consists of the best kidney specialists, urologists, nephrologists, transplant surgeons, transplant nurses, and a transplant coordinator.
It is important to find the best kidney transplant hospital you can. This is a highly specialised surgery and needs to be managed with the utmost care. Find a kidney specialist hospital so you can be sure that the procedure will be conducted carefully. Hyderabad is a leading centre for kidney transplants in India with some of the best urologists, nephrologists, and transplant specialists in the country.
How Is A Kidney Transplant Done?
A kidney transplant involves replacing both damaged or diseased kidneys with a healthy donor kidney. Since one kidney can do the job of two, only one donor kidney is required for one recipient.
The surgery takes about 3 to 4 hours and is performed under general anesthesia by kidney specialists and transplant surgeons. The damaged kidneys are usually not removed unless they are infected or malignant. The new kidney is placed in the lower abdomen, below the damaged kidneys and near the groin. The healthy kidney is then connected to the blood vessels and new ureter is used to connect the new kidney to the bladder.
Transplanted organs are recognised as foreign by the host immune system which attacks it. This can be fatal, so to prevent this from happening the transplant recipient will have to take immunosuppressant drugs (medication to lower the immune response) for the entire duration of their life.
What Are The Risks of A Kidney Transplant?
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with a kidney transplant which includes:
- Blood loss
- Rejection of the new kidney
- Failure of the new kidney
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Proteinuria (excretion of protein in the urine)
- Post-transplant lymphoma
- High blood pressure
- Side effects associated with medication such as weight gain, excessive hair growth, acne, diabetes, etc.
Despite this, a kidney transplant is still the best option for people with renal failure or terminal kidney diseases.