Facts About Kidney Transplantation
Kidneys perform a vital function in the body: cleaning blood. The filter out impurities and keep the things your body needs. Generally people have two kidneys, located on either side below the rib cage. The kidneys are connected to your bladder and they also make urine and help control your blood pressure.
When your kidneys fail, a kidney transplant is an option for many. First of all, kidneys are easier to ‘get’ than other organs to be transplanted. Kidneys can come from living donors, since living with one kidney is perfectly fine for healthy people. Living donors can be family, or perfect strangers who are a good match for you. Kidneys can also come from deceased persons who have signed a donor release card.
Many people with kidney failure have to have dialysis on a regular basis to perform the functions of the diseased or failing kidney. Having a transplant greatly improves the quality of life, as dialysis is not longer needed. Also, having a new, functioning kidney many times means your blood pressure will go down, and you may no longer be anemic (common with kidney failure).
Kidney transplant surgery means placing a healthy kidney into your body to take over the functions of your failing kidney. What is curious is that normally, your old kidney is not removed during surgery.
During the transplant procedure, the doctor will place the new kidney on either side of your abdomen and connect it surgically to blood vessels and the bladder. Arteries and veins are also attached to the new kidney.
Kidney transplantation surgery risks are the same as for any surgery you may undergo. You have risk of bleeding, getting an infection, and swelling at the surgery site. Also, anesthesia can have complications, such as breathing problems or an allergic reaction. Medications given after transplant surgery could make you more prone to infections.
The biggest risk, however, is the risk of rejection. The body will recognize anything new as ‘foreign’ and will try to reject it. You will be given anti-rejection medications which can help. Though, through years of research and medical advancements, complications after surgery are low.
Recovery from transplant surgery is about the same as for any other surgery. You can return to normal activities as soon as you feel up to it. It may take a few months to be strong enough to return to work. You should refrain from lifting heavy objects for several weeks; you should not drive for up to 6 weeks.
Stay healthy and active, and you and your new kidney will live a long, happy, fulfilling life together.