What is Kidney Transplant?
In a kidney transplant surgery, the donor kidney is placed in your lower abdomen. Blood vessels of the new kidney are attached to blood vessels in the lower part of your abdomen, just above one of your legs. The new kidney's ureter (urine tube) is connected to your bladder. Unless they are causing complications, your own kidneys are left in place.
Why do you need a Kidney Transplant?
When we can do dialysis- a question often in the mind of people, why is kidney transplant required. Doctors recommend Kidney transplant for:
1. Better quality of life
2. Longevity (increasing) life span.
3. Less Dietary restrictions.
4. Less prone to other health issues.
5. You are in end stage renal disease.
What are the reasons for end-stage renal disease?
If your kidney is functioning only 10% then you are said to be suffering from an end-stage renal disease. Reasons are:
Chronic high blood pressure
Polycystic kidney disease
Who is a perfect Donor?
Donors are of 2 types- Living or Deceased. In either case, the best Donors are within close relatives like brother, sister, son, daughter etc. However, being a close relative is not a guarantee for being a Kidney match. Regardless of the type of donors, special blood tests are needed to find out what type of blood and tissue is present. These test results help to match a donor kidney to the recipient.
- Blood Type Testing
There are four blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Everyone human fits into one of these inherited groups. The recipient and donor should have either the same blood type or compatible ones. The list below shows compatible types:
If the recipient blood type is A Donor blood type must be A or O
If the recipient blood type is B Donor blood type must be B or O
If the recipient blood type is O Donor blood type must be O
If the recipient blood type is AB Donor blood type can be A, B, AB, or O
Similar to blood transfusion, AB blood type is the easiest to match because that individual accepts all other blood types. Type O is the hardest to match.
- Tissue Typing
The second test, is a blood test for human leukocyte antigens (HLA), is called tissue typing. Antigens are markers found on many cells of the body that distinguish each individual as unique. These markers are inherited from the parents. Both recipients and any potential donors have tissue typing performed during the evaluation process.
Perfect match transplants have the best chance of working for many years. Most perfect match kidney transplants come from siblings.
Although tissue typing is done despite partial or absent HLA match with some degree of "mismatch" between the recipient and donor. (please also see our section on Bone Marrow Transplant)
Your body makes substances called antibodies that destroy foreign materials. Individuals may make antibodies each time there is an infection, with pregnancy, have a blood transfusion, or undergo a kidney transplant. If there are antibodies to the donor kidney, the body may destroy the kidney. For this reason, when a donor kidney is available, a test called a crossmatch is done to ensure the recipient does not have pre-formed antibodies to the donor .
The crossmatch is done by mixing the recipient's blood with cells from the donor. If the crossmatch is negative, it means the recipient does not have antibodies to the donor and that they are eligible to receive this kidney.
Crossmatches are performed several times during preparation for a living donor transplant, and a final crossmatch is performed within 48 hours before this type of transplant.
Testing is also done for viruses, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis, and CMV (cytomegalovirus) to select the proper preventive medications after transplant. These viruses are checked in any potential donor to help prevent spreading disease to the recipient.
What are the side effects of Kidney Transplant?
Kidney transplant is the most sought after organ transplant treatment availed by patients worldwide. Reportedly, more than 40 per cent of Kidney transplant operation had taken place in 2014. Many patients proclaim they have been happily living there after without any other health issues, but post the treatment, one could be prone to some side effects, which if neglected could be life threatening.
There 2 types of side effects:
Life threatening side effects
Minor and common side effects
Life threatening side effects:
- Fever reach beyond 101 degree Fahrenheit temperature
Doctors suggest monitoring your body temperature every day post treatment. If it goes beyond 101 or even touches the limit, be cautious. As a transplant treatment include immunosuppressant medications, which can take a toll on an individual’s immune system thereby making one prone to serious illnesses like cancer. Kidney transplants before 1950s resulted in patient’s death due to negligence of high body temperature.
Increase in weight– Many patients post the treatment reported an increase in body weight of 5 to 7 pounds in less than 4 days, the main reason for this after effect is the intake of Prednisone; an immunosuppressant drug given to patients who underwent transplant, which could affect blood sugar levels.
Disruption in Urine Output and change in pattern– A disruption in urine output, change in pattern, colour change in your urine are symptoms could indicate the presence of BK Virus. If left unchecked it could lead to tissue damage, so do not forget to report erratic urine patterns to your doctor.
- High Blood Pressure
A person having extremely high or low blood pressure is prone to many other health risks, especially after a Kidney Transplant one can expect their blood pressure levels to rise and 80-90 per cent of patients have experienced similar effects, this is due to the excessive medication prescribed. Therefore, blood pressure levels must be within the average level and monitored.
- Tooth Pain
Before undergoing a transplant, a patient would undergo dental checks. These medicines would lead to growth of excessive gums (formation of patches in between teeths). Hence post transplant, do not forget to consult your dentist once a month and see if you are free of dental complications.
Minor and Common Side Effects:
Excessive Hair Growth and Hair Loss– The anti-rejection medication given post Kidney Transplant, may result in hormonal changes. These hormones could encourage excessive hair growth in chest and other parts of the body as well as loss of hair from your head. But it is said to be under controlled by doctors after the course of the medicine is completed.
Acne– Intake of Prednisone medicine could trigger acne formation on face, chest, shoulders and some other parts of the body. After the medicine course, it is said to wade away. But rubbing those acnes hard could leave a permanent scar. Doctors suggest washing by cold water.
Exposure to Sun– A kidney transplant patient is more vulnerable to burning sensations when exposed to sun. Prednisone makes one’s skin more prone to sensitivity. But post the medication, such issues have not affected the patient.
Life Expectancy after Kidney Transplant?
If you read in the above link, the patient received kidney in 1973 and is still alive. (perhaps it was a perfect match as her mother was her donor) However, if you have a kidney transplant and if there was no rejection, you can live easily above 10 years.
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