Kidney Transplantation is basically a surgical intervention which is performed to place a kidney either from a live or deceased donor into a patient whose kidneys do not any longer function properly. Kidneys are organs which remove excessive fluid & waste from blood. When kidneys lose ability to filter, dangerous levels of waste & fluid accumulate within the body. This condition is usually known as end-stage kidney disease or more commonly as kidney failure. Kidney transplantation is most often the best treatment solution for kidney failure. Since a person can comfortably live on a single kidney, only one donated kidney is required in order to replace two failed kidneys & which therefore conveniently makes living-donor kidney transplant a viable option. However, in case a compatible living donor is not available for kidney transplantation, the patient’s name is usually placed on a kidney transplantation waiting list so as to receive a kidney from deceased donors. This wait usually takes a few years of time. Moreover, since organ transplantation is generally placed under regulation across the world, each country can be having a different set of laws governing them.
Why Undergo Kidney Transplantation
Kidney transplantation is normally used as treatment for end-stage kidney disease (kidney failure) which is a condition where the patient’s kidneys can only function at a fraction of its normal capacity. Generally, people with kidney failure either need to have the wastes removed from blood stream through dialysis or undergo kidney transplantation in order to stay alive.
Causes of End-Stage Kidney Disease
Common causes of kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease include the following.
- Chronic or uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Polycystic Kidney Disease
- Chronic Glomerulonephritis – Inflammation & eventual scarring of tiny filters within the patients kidneys (glomeruli)
Quite often it is possible to manage kidney disease with diet, medication & treatments for underlying causes. However, despite these steps if kidneys still cannot filter adequate blood, such patients may be good candidates for kidney transplantation.
Risks & Complications Associated with Kidney Transplantation
Kidney transplantation surgery carries certain amount of significant complications including the following.
- Blood Clots
- Leakage or blockage of ureter tube which links the kidney to the bladder
- Rejection of donated kidney
- Failure of donated kidney
- Infection or cancer which is transmitted through donated kidney
- Heart Attack, Stroke of Death
Side Effects of Anti-Rejection Medications
Following kidney transplantation, patients will need to take medications which are meant to help prevent their bodies from rejecting the donated kidney. However, these medications are also found to cause a variety of side effects including the following.
- Weight Gain
- Puffiness (edema)
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Excessive Hair Loss or Hair Growth
- Osteoporosis – bone thinning
- Osteonecrosis – bone damage
- Increased risk of cancer, particularly lymphoma & skin cancer
Preparing for Kidney Transplantation Procedure
1. Choosing a Kidney Transplant Center
When doctors recommend kidney transplantation, the patient may be referred to a transplant center. Patients are also however free to select a transplantation center of their own choice. Nevertheless, when a kidney transplant patients are choosing a transplant center, they should consider the following factors while doing so.
- Learn about the transplant center & the number & type of kidney transplants they have performed each year.
- Enquire about the patients & kidney survival rates at the transplant center.
- Consider the additional services which the transplant center is providing, including assistance for travel arrangements, coordinating support groups, helping with local accommodation during recovery period & also offering referrals to other resources.
After the patient has selected a transplant center, he/she will require an evaluation test in order to determine whether they meet the eligibility requirements for kidney transplant. For this purpose, healthcare team at the transplantation center will assess the following.
- Whether the patient is healthy enough to undergo surgery & be able to tolerate post-transplant medications for the rest of his/her life.
- Whether the patient is having any medical conditions which would decrease success of kidney transplant.
- Whether the patient is willing & able to take medications as directed & also follow suggestions given by the kidney transplantation team.
2. Finding a Donor for Kidney Transplant
Kidney donors can either be related or unrelated to the patient & living or deceased. The transplant center healthcare team will consider several other factors including blood & tissue types, while evaluating whether the living donor can be a good match for the patient. Family members are a good option & are often most likely to be compatible organ donors. Nevertheless, scores of people undergo successful kidney transplants with kidneys that are donated from people who are not at all related to them.
When a compatible living donor is unavailable, the patients name will be placed on a waiting list for deceased donor kidneys. Since there are fewer kidneys that are available & there are many people waiting for transplants, the waiting list keeps growing all the time. Normal waiting time for deceased donor kidneys is usually a few years of time.
Paired kidney donation can also be an option for patients if they have found someone to donate a kidney, but the blood & tissue of the donor is not compatible with the patient. In such a scenario, the donor can give this kidney to a person whose blood & tissue is compatible with the donor’s kidney, while the patient receives a kidney from another kidney transplantee’s donor.
3. Staying Healthy
Patients must take efforts to stay healthy, irrespective of whether they are waiting for a donated kidney or the transplant surgery is already scheduled. Staying healthy & being as active as they can be will make it more likely that they will be ready for kidney transplant surgery when it is time. This will also help them speed up recovery following surgery when it happens. For this reason they must follow the steps mentioned below.
- Regularly take medications as prescribed
- Follow guidelines given regarding diet & exercise
- Keep-up with appointments with the healthcare team
- Stay involved in healthy activities like hanging out & relaxing with friends & family
Moreover, kidney transplant patients must stay in touch with the transplantation team & let them know about any significant changes in health. For patients who are waiting for donated kidneys, they must make sure that the transplantation team knows how to reach them at all times. They should keep their hospital bags packed & handy, & also make advance arrangements for transportation to the transplantation center.
Kidney Transplantation Procedure
Kidney transplantations are normally performed under the influence of general anesthesia, so that the patient is asleep during the procedure & will not feel a thing. Surgical team will usually monitor the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate & blood oxygen levels throughout the kidney transplantation procedure.
- During the Kidney Transplant Surgical Procedure
- Surgeons will make the required incision for approaching the operating site & subsequently place the new kidney in the lower abdomen region. Original kidneys are left in place unless they are causing complications like pain, infection, kidney stones or high blood pressure.
- Blood vessels of the new kidney are attached to relevant blood vessels in lower portion of the abdomen, just above the leg of the patient.
- Ureter tube of the new kidney, which links kidney to the bladder, is finally connected to the bladder.
Kidney transplantation surgeries usually last for about 3 – 4 hours of time.
- After Kidney Transplantation Surgery
Following kidney transplantation surgery, patients can expect the following.
- Spend a Maximum of Seven Days at the Hospital – Doctors & nurses after completion of surgery will monitor the condition of the patient in the transplant recovery area to look for any signs of complications. The new kidney will make urine like the original kidney did earlier when it was healthy. Quite often this process starts almost immediately, but in some cases it might also take several days. Patients can expect pain or soreness around the site of incision during the healing process.
- Frequent Checkups During Recovery – Close monitoring is however necessary for a few weeks even after the patient leaves the hospital. The transplant team will generate a checkup schedule for the patient. During this time, in case the patient is residing in another town, he/she will require to make arrangements so as to stay near the transplantation center.
- Taking Medications Throughout Life – Patients will have to take a number of medications after kidney transplantation. Immunosuppressant drugs which help keep the patient’s immune system from attacking the new kidney is a must. Additional drugs will be prescribed which will help reduce risk of other complications like infection following transplantation surgery.
Kidney Transplantation Outcomes
Following a successful kidney transplantation procedure, the new kidney will filter blood so that the patient will no longer require dialysis. But in order to prevent the body from rejecting the new donor kidney, patients are required to take medications in order to suppress the immune system. Most likely, they will have to keep taking these drugs for the rest of their life. Since these medications are given to suppress the immune system & which will then make the body more susceptible to infection, doctors may also prescribe antifungal, antiviral & antibacterial medications to be taken along with immunosuppressant medications. Skin checkups with dermatologists to screen for skin cancer & also keeping up to date with other cancer screenings is strongly recommended following a successful kidney transplantation surgery.
Kidney Transplantation Survival Rates
- About 98 percent of people receiving living-donor kidney transplants live for at least one year following kidney transplantation surgery. Of these about 90 percent live for at least five years.
- About 94 percent of adults receiving deceased-donor kidney transplantation are found to live for at least one year following kidney transplant surgery. Of these about 82 percent live for at least five years.
In case the new kidney fails, patients can resume dialysis or even consider a second kidney transplantation procedure. Moreover, patients may also choose to discontinue treatment. However, this important medical decision depends upon the patient’s current health condition & his or her ability to withstand surgery & the patient’s other expectations for maintaining a certain quality of life.
Low Cost Kidney Transplantation in India
Over the years India has emerged as the undisputed medical tourism leader providing a wide spectrum of affordable medical procedures including organ transplantation to people from all around the world. India is home to a large pool of expert doctors & surgeons who have earlier for decades trained & practiced in advanced western countries like the UK, Canada & United States. Healthcare infrastructure in India comprises of an extensive network of nationally & internationally accredited hospital facilities equipped with the latest technologies while adhering to standard certified norms. These healthcare facilities are managed by highly skilled nurses & professional staff who can speak & communicate in English. This is an additional driving factor which draws international patients as they feel comfortable & safe in such an environment.
Avail Affordable Kidney Transplant Surgery with Travcure Medical Tourism
Travcure Medical Tourism is a globally reputed healthcare tourism company providing a variety of low cost medical procedures to international patients. Associated with the best doctors & hospital facilities in the country, Travcure is well placed to pass on benefits to patients seeking their services. Seamless services offered by Travcure in fact begin with the first telephonic conversation with the patient & eventually moves on to identifying the best doctor & ideal hospital for treatment as per the patient’s guidelines. Other essential services offered by Travcure healthcare experts include assisting the patient & his/her accomplice obtain medical visas, a warm reception at the airport when the patient is arriving for treatment, convenient arrangements for local transportation, comfortable accommodation options which include budget or luxury hotels or serviced apartments, scheduling appointments with doctors for timely treatment procedures without any waiting period, choice of an exotic recuperative holiday at reasonable costs, follow-ups for assessment of recovery & an affectionate farewell when the patient is heading back home after a successful treatment.