Kidney transplant – An overview of the surgery, post-operative care and patient assistance

The kidneys are responsible for filtering out harmful waste products from blood and removing excess fluid as urine. When the kidneys lose 90% of their capacity to filter out the waste it leads to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). This requires to be treated immediately as it can become fatal. The treatment of choice for this condition is kidney transplantation. This operation is performed by renal transplant doctors who specialize in such surgeries.

Types of Kidneys for transplant

Kidney required for the transplant can be obtained from a living donor, as a person can survive with even one kidney that is functioning perfectly. Close relatives have a good chance of having matching blood and tissue type. The tissue type is determined by performing a test called HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) matching.

Kidney can also be obtained from a person deceased recently. This is called a cadaver kidney. The risk of rejection is higher in such cases as the blood and tissue type might not match.

The Surgery

The Kidney transplant surgery is a complex surgery that takes about three to four hours. It is performed under general anesthesia. Gibson incision is the widely used technique for kidney transplantation. The procedure is as follows:

  • A long incision is made in the lower abdomen and the donated kidney is placed in its position. The diseased kidney is left as-is unless it shows signs of infection or cancer.
  • The renal artery and vein of the donated kidney are attached to the artery and vein in the abdomen. This allows the blood to flow through the donated kidney for it to function properly.
  • Then, the donated kidney is connected to the urinary bladder through a tube called ureter.
  • The incision is closed with stitches or staples.

Post-operative care

Once the anesthesia wears out, the patient is given pain medication to manage the pain in the area where the incision was made. After the surgery, medication is immediately started to make sure that the body’s immune system does not reject new kidney. Such medicines are called immunosuppressants. The new kidney can start working right away or might take few weeks. Dialysis is required to be performed until kidney starts performing it functions. Normally, the patient requires a weeklong stay at the hospital after the surgery. After discharge, the patient is required to make frequent appointments for the first few weeks to evaluate the functioning of the new kidney and tests are performed to check how effectively the immunosuppressants are working.

As with any surgery, kidney transplant also has complications like rejection and adverse effects of immunosuppressants.

Patient assistance

Dealing with a life threatening condition like kidney failure can be very stressful for the patient and the care takers alike. Good news is, you do not have to take this journey alone. PSTakeCare provides end to end package for surgeries to guide you at each step. The package allows you to compare various hospitals and treatment options and make an informed choice. You can get quotes by sending in your medical records and even get an e-consultation with a team of surgeons. The travel and accommodation logistics will be completely taken care of. Post-operative care at home and post hospitalization can be arranged too. You can avail the services of a team assigned to assist the patient throughout the entire process.