Kidney transplantation is typically a last resort for late-stage kidney disease. It involves removing your old kidney and replacing it with a healthy, fully functioning kidney from a donor.
Luckily, what we know about performing transplantations and medical treatment has improved significantly over recent times. With new developments, it’s now safer than ever to receive a new kidney transplant.
The idea of surgical intervention to treat chronic kidney disease can be intimidating, however, it is the best option for many patients. It’s important to learn some of the major information about kidney transplantation before making a decision to get this treatment.
Managing End-Stage Renal Disease
In end-stage renal disease, also known as kidney failure, your kidneys can no longer perform their normal function. As a result, waste builds up along with certain minerals in your bloodstream to dangerous levels.
At this point, you have two options for treatment: dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Dialysis is a less invasive option, but it’s not a good fit for everyone. It can cause many side effects ranging from fatigue to weight gain, and it can lead to more serious complications such as abdominal hernias or even sepsis (severe infection).
Additionally, dialysis is a temporary fix for a permanent problem. You’ll need to continue dialysis treatments multiple times a week for the rest of your life.
A kidney transplant, on the other hand, restores your body’s regular functions. It’s a great alternative treatment, though it isn’t without its own potential problems.
A kidney transplant is the most effective way of dealing with chronic kidney disease in the long term.
While there are lasting results like a suppressed immune system and a greater risk of getting sick, your new kidney can filter your blood on its own, which means you can essentially return to your regular lifestyle. This makes it the ideal treatment for most people experiencing kidney failure.
Advancements in Transplantation Methods
While transplants offer great benefits, they’re still a surgical procedure, which means there’s a certain level of risk involved. Still, researchers and surgeons are always working to reduce and limit these risks to make the process as safe as possible.
Waitlisting and Organ Donation
One of the biggest issues with kidney transplants is their lack of availability. There are thousands of people on a waitlist for a new kidney and a comparatively limited supply of organ donors. As of 2016, there were over 100,000 people on a waitlist and just over 20,000 transplants performed, and the demand has only grown in recent years.
Because of this, many companies are hard at work developing solutions to the short supply. This includes spreading the word and encouraging more people to donate, improving allocation to save more lives, and reducing the risk of organ rejection after a transplant.
Improving Success Rates
In some cases, a body may reject a transplanted kidney. The way to reduce the risk of rejections is by suppressing the immune system, and this process has become much more successful over time.
Immunosuppressant medications have improved, and the delivery of pre-surgical and post-surgical care also has advanced. There are now more tests for cardiovascular and immune system issues before the transplant surgery and more monitoring and screening afterward. This improvement in care allows doctors to identify and adjust for problems at an early stage.
The standard hospital recovery time after a kidney transplant is about five days, although it can vary based on individual medical needs or any potential complications. Most transplant recovery periods last about two to three months, at which point you can usually return to your regular activities.
After the surgery, you’ll need to take immunosuppressants to decrease the risk of your body rejecting the transplant. It’s best to take every possible precaution in order to avoid getting sick such as routinely washing your hands thoroughly and avoiding any exposure to bacteria and viruses.
You will likely have to return for follow-up appointments periodically. Close follow-up with your transplant specialist will be key to the best outcomes.
Kidney transplantation is an option worth considering if you have end-stage renal disease. It can greatly improve your quality of life, though it’s also important to consider the potential for side effects and complications.
For more information about transplant waiting lists in your area, contact your nearest transplant center.