Kidney transplantation is recommended for most people with end-stage renal (kidney) disease (ESRD). This is a surgical procedure in which a person with failing kidneys can receive a healthy kidney from another person. Receiving a healthy kidney via transplant allows for freedom from dialysis because the new kidney takes over the function of filtering your blood.
Undergoing a kidney transplant may prolong survival, compared to staying on dialysis. Transplantation also reduces the risk of heart disease, improves quality of life, provides freedom from dialysis, and improves energy levels.
Different types of kidney transplantation
You can receive a kidney from either a living donor (friend or family) or a deceased donor. Living donor kidneys generally tend to last longer than deceased donor kidneys.
Taking medications after a kidney transplantation
Our immune system is trained to destroy or “reject” anything it recognizes as “foreign”—which may include a newly transplanted kidney. In order to prevent your immune system from “rejecting” the new kidney, you will be placed on lifelong anti-rejection medications. Some medications have side effects that your nephrologist will discuss with you at the time of your evaluation.
Getting referred to the transplant center
Almost all patients with kidney conditions leading to Stage 4 or 5 (GFR<30 ml/min) chronic renal failure are good candidates for transplant education and evaluation. In fact, patients that receive a kidney transplant prior to receiving dialysis have fewer complications. Your nephrologist should refer you to a transplant center as early as possible.