Kidneys for transplantation come from two sources: living donors and deceased (non-living) donors. Living donors are usually immediate family members or sometimes spouses. Deceased donor kidneys usually come from people who have willed their kidneys before their death by signing organ donor cards. Permission for donation can also be given by the deceased person's family at the time of death.
All donors are carefully screened to make sure there is a suitable match and to prevent any transmissible diseases or other complications.
Kidney transplantation involves placing a healthy kidney into the body, where it can perform all of the functions that a failing kidney cannot.
The new kidney is placed on the lower right or left side of your abdomen where it is surgically connected to nearby blood vessels. Placing the kidney in this position allows it to be easily connected to blood vessels and the bladder. The vein and artery of your new kidney are attached to your vein and artery. The new kidney's ureter is attached to your bladder to allow urine to pass out of your body.
In most cases, the diseased kidneys are not removed. There are three conditions that might require your diseased kidneys to be removed:
A successful kidney transplant gives you increased strength, stamina, and energy. After transplantation, you should be able to return to a more normal lifestyle and have more control over your daily living. You can have a normal diet and more normal fluid intake.
If you were dependent on dialysis before the transplant, you'll have more freedom because you won't be bound to your dialysis schedules.
Anemia, a common problem with kidney failure, might be corrected after transplantation. If you have hypertension (high blood pressure), you could be on fewer blood pressure medications after transplantation.
The risks of kidney transplantation are the same as those of any surgery. There is the risk of bleeding, infection or breathing problems. You also might experience some side effects from the medications, and you could be more prone to infections, since the medicine you will take after transplantation lowers your body's ability to fight infection.
There is also the risk of rejection. Since the body recognizes the new kidney as a foreign object, it will normally try to get rid of it or "reject" it. However, you are given medicine to prevent rejection.
Because of years of experience, research, and improved medicines that prevent rejection, kidney transplants are very successful with few complications after transplantation.
Cleveland Clinic Transplant Center
9500 Euclid Ave., Desk Q8 Cleveland, OH 44195
216.444.8949 or 1.800.223.2273 ext. 48949
American Society of Transplantation
1120 Route 73, Suite 200
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
American Society of Transplant Surgeons
2461 South Clark Street, Ste. 640
Arlington, VA 22202
A collaborative project of the American Society of Transplant Physicians and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Features Transplant News Network, an online broadcasting service that publishes monthly news reports on recent developments in transplant medicine.
Children's Organ Transplant Association, Inc.
2501 West COTA Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
International Society of Nephrology
340 North Avenue, 3rd floor
Cranford, NJ 07016
Organ Procurement Organization Serving Northeast Ohio
4775 Richmond Road
Cleveland, OH 44128
1.888.558.LIFE (5433) or 216.752.LIFE (5433)
Nephron Information Center
This is not a complete list and inclusion does not imply endorsement by Cleveland Clinic.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 03/20/2019