For a patient to get a kidney transplant there are many measures to be taken. Each patient needs to go through an evaluation stage which will determine whether the patient is ready for a kidney transplant. Once this is clear, assisted by the transplant team, the patient would need to find a kidney match. Additionally to this, financing the transplant also needs to be discussed. The patient needs to prepare for the transplant by also follow certain lifestyle changes, for example, eating right, quit smoking, be more active by doing some workouts but at the same time staying relaxed and not to get themselves into too much stress and lastly to discuss their medication with their doctor.

Evaluation Stage

The patient’s medical history will be checked and they will meet the medical transplant team. The team consists of a surgeon, transplant coordinator, social worker and some other medical workers which depend on the patient’s medical situation.

During the evaluation stage, the patient needs to go through many tests and exams in order for the transplant centre to decide whether the patient is a healthy enough condition to go through with the kidney transplant. These tests include blood and tissue type tests, heart and lung exams, kidney and liver tests, HIV and hepatitis tests, colon exam as well as a prostate exam for male patients and a mammogram and pap smear for female patients. 1 To ensure that patients are mentally prepared for their kidney transplant, they also have to go through a mental health evaluation. This evaluation will show whether the patient is in a mental health state which enables them to handle the transplant en take care of themselves afterwards.

Transplant Stage

Before the kidney transplant, the patient needs to undergo certain tests to ensure that the donor’s kidney matches with their body. A person’s donor kidney has to be very similar to their other organs and tissues in order for the immune system to accept the kidney as part of the body. 2 There are two types of donors, either a living kidney donor or a deceased kidney donor. If a patient receives a living kidney donor, it would be possible to schedule a surgery date ahead of time which also allows the patient to prepare themselves well. On the other hand, when a patient receives a deceased kidney donor, it means that they will only receive the kidney once a donor passed away. This could happen any day at any hour which means the patient will have less time to prepare. The patient will receive a call from the transplant team with the order to go to the hospital as soon as possible. At the hospital, the patient will undergo a few blood test to ensure that they are in a good health condition to receive the kidney transplant as well as whether the blood of the donor won’t have a bad effect on the patient. Once everything is clear the team will start to prepare the patient for the transplant.

Risks of a Kidney Transplant

Just like all other big surgeries, a kidney transplant could also have risks but this does not mean that it will happen. After a kidney transplant, the patient could develop damage to other organs, get an infection or the artery, vein, and ureter might leak or become blocked. 3

Benefits of a Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant can lead to the patient living longer than they would have if they did not get the transplant as well as being healthier. Although a kidney from a transplant is not as functional as a healthy person’s kidney, the patient will still be able to live a much healthier life if they take good care of themselves. After a kidney transplant, the person will be able to live a much more flexible life without always worrying about going for dialysis treatment which leads to hurdles like going on holiday of finding a fixed job.

Sources:

  1. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/trans_getready
  2. https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/treatment-of-kidney-failure/kidney-transplant/preparing-for-transplant/
  3. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/kidney-donor-surgery-preparation#2

Photo 2 by Chang Duong on Unsplash

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