Kidney transplant – The Twin Bean Organ

Kidney transplant


The bean-shaped organ present in our body, that is responsible for filtering the blood is called a kidney. The kidney is nestled below the ribcage at the back of the stomach. The primary function of the kidney is to filter out the waste present in the fluids of the body.

The kidney is red in colour. The red organ is very important for healthy well-being. It is the organ that removes the waste from the body. If the kidneys do not function properly, the body will have trouble eliminating waste.

The kidney also plays an important role in balancing the acid and base levels in the body. The kidneys may also control blood pressure. The nephrons which are present in the kidney are responsible for the filtering process. A healthy human kidney contains one million nephrons.

When the kidneys are weak, they lose their filtering abilities. When that situation arises, waste from the fluids will be accumulated in the body. This would result in kidney failure and other long term kidney diseases.

If there is kidney failure the person would exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Excess fluid retention
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea and in some cases
  • Irregular heartbeat.

As we read the importance of this organ, we need to understand that keeping it healthy is important.

If a person fails to do so, they tend to develop infections and diseases leading to kidney failure or may even develop kidney stones.

When the kidneys reach a failure rate of 90%, the waste from the body would be removed through a machine. This process of removing waste through a machine is called dialysis. In some cases, there might be a need to replace the organ.

Understanding kidney transplant, its need, and procedure

The surgical procedure that involves removing a healthy kidney from a donor, and placing it into the person whose kidneys do not function properly is called a kidney transplant.

The person who gives the organ is called a donor. A donor may be a live donor or deceased cadaver donor. 

This is a popular choice of treatment for kidney failure. The organ can be replaced rather than opting for dialysis which needs to be performed regularly and throughout the person’s life.

When compared to dialysis the kidney transplant has advantages like

  • Improved quality of life
  • Fewer restrictions on diet
  • Overall treatment cost is less
  • Lowering the risk of death

The kidney will be replaced according to the compatibility. A living compatible donor is required. If the donor is not available, then the patient needs to wait. The time which a person waits to find a compatible donor is called the waiting period.

A patient needs to prepare for the treatment.

It is important to learn about the types of transplants that are performed. Know various details like the survival rates of the patients after the surgery. The cost structure of the transplant and the advancements in the treatment.

The first step involves choosing the appropriate transplant center. After the center is chosen, the patient would be evaluated to know the requirements for a kidney transplant. In the evaluation process, the doctors will know if the patient is healthy enough to undergo surgery and consume medications.

The tests may include a physical examination and other tests. 

Once the tests are done an organ match is found for the patient.

Various tests are performed to find the matching kidney is suitable for the patient. The test would suggest the kidney suitability either by blood, tissue or cross match.

Usually, it is preferred to get a kidney from a person whose blood type matches. A kidney transplant can be done without matching blood type, but with a greater risk of organ rejection. These types of incompatible kidney transplants are known as ABO-incompatible transplants.

If the blood type is matching, the next step is performing a test called the tissue typing test.

This test involves genetic indicators that would indicate the longevity of the transplanted kidney. If it’s a good match the body would not reject the organ.

The final test involves mixing the patient’s blood and the donor blood in a lab. This test would help the doctor understand how the body will react to the specific anti-agents in the donor’s blood. A negative result means that the donor’s kidney is not a match for the patient. A positive result means that the kidney transplant can happen with additional medical treatments before and after the surgery.

What are the risks involved in kidney transplant surgery?  

A kidney transplant is a surgery that is capable of treating advanced disease and kidney failure. It can never be a cure. The procedure in itself is risky. Side effects may occur due to medications. Several other risks include bleeding, infection, infections that are passed down to the patient from the donor. In the worst cases, a person may also get a stroke or a heart attack.

After the procedure, a patient is expected to spend additional days in the hospital. The doctors would monitor the health of the patient. They would watch the signs of any complications.

Medications are prescribed. They need to be taken throughout the patient’s life.

To sum up

A kidney transplant is a surgery prescribed to replace the damaged kidney in a patient.

After a successful transplant, the kidney put in the body would filter the blood and perform the other duties, a normal functioning kidney does. Once a patient has a kidney transplant, there is no need for dialysis

It is normal for a patient to feel nervous before and after surgery. Seeking support and advice from a medical professional is recommended. Friends and family can support and encourage a patient to go through the surgery if required.

The medications would likely increase the weight and the appetite of the patient. Therefore, after the transplant, there is a need for consulting a nutritionist for proper diet advice.

The dietitian is most likely to suggest a diet that may include consuming more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Consuming enough fiber, eating lean meat and fish.

The dietitian may also recommend a low sodium diet for keeping the kidney healthy. A kidney transplant is a better form of treatment than dialysis, however, taking advice from a medical professional is necessary to know more about the pros and cons of the procedure.

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