A kidney transplant often is a long-cherished wish of many kidney patients. For many, it means returning to a life without being dependent on renal care centers, a restrictive time schedule and diets, being able to work without constraints and the option to travel more easily. This desire takes concrete form when an appropriate donor kidney is found – a process which may take months or even several years. This long waiting time can be difficult for some patients to cope with, and can cause frustration and stress. These feelings are natural, and your doctor and nursing staff will help you to cope with any concerns you may have. You should always be aware that kidney transplantation is another valuable treatment option to hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis and that no treatment modality excludes the other. Most patients who receive a transplant have experienced months or even years on dialysis (hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis). It is also important to know that the kidney transplantation does not heal the kidney disease. To prevent your body from rejecting the donor kidney, daily medication and regular consultations with your doctor are vital. Your doctor and nursing staff will always support you in all stages of your kidney disease and all conditions of your life. So do not hesitate to ask, even if you think your question might not be directly related to your treatment.
Is a kidney transplant an option for me?
When a person's kidneys fail, there are three treatments available:
- Peritoneal dialysis
- Kidney transplant
Many patients feel that following a transplant their quality of life is better than when they were on dialysis. It can offer more freedom because they no longer need to attend for dialysis, and there is no real diet or fluid restriction.
However, there are some risk involved with a kidney transplant. And although transplants can last many years, there may be a time when you will need dialysis again in the future.
Kidney transplantation requires an operation to put a healthy kidney from another person into your body. This transplanted kidney will then do the work of your damaged kidneys. The kidney is placed into your lower abdomen, and is joined to your artery and vein. The blood then passes through the transplant and it starts to make urine. If you are able to have a live transplant, the various tests that are necessary will have to be completed before a day can be selected for the operation. If you are waiting for a cadaveric kidney, it may take time for a kidney to become available that is suitable for you. It is very difficult to say exactly how long you may have to wait for a transplant. Some people are fortunate and receive a transplant very quickly; others will spend longer on the waiting list.
Take time to think about what will happen when you receive a call for a transplant and then remain prepared and positive, but get on with your life in the meantime.
Please always consult your nephrologist.