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Kidney transplants – moving a kidney from one person’s body to another.

A transplant is the ultimate treatment for patients with diseased or damaged kidneys. A successful kidney transplant means the patient is free from dialysis procedures.

When kidney transplants take place the surgeon inserts the new kidney close to the bladder

The surgeon attaches the transplant kidney close to the patient’s bladder, which means the new ureter – the tube from the kidney to the bladder – can be kept relatively short, avoiding complications when implanting it.

 Diagram shows the position of a transplanted kidney that is placed in the groin and linked to the blood stream and bladder

Rejection – When the immune system attacks a transplanted kidney because it thinks it’s an invader.

The body’s immune system naturally treats any new organic material implanted into it as alien, and attacks it. This is called rejection.

To prevent rejection of the new kidney, the patient’s bone marrow is treated with radiation to stop production of white blood cells. Drugs are also used to suppress the immune system. 

Sometimes, a close (“blood”) relative donates a kidney to a patient. This has the advantage that the tissue type will be similar to the patient’s, reducing the chances of rejection. 

Disadvantages of kidney transplants

 1.  Surgical risks

The risks of the surgery include infection, bleeding and damage to the surrounding organs.

Kidney transplant is a risky operation which can easily result in heavy bleeding infection and damage to surrounding organs. Transplanted kidneys have an expiry date they last for about 12 - 15 years. Some people can live with only one kidney without dial

2.  Risk of rejection

See “rejection” above.

3.  Transplanted kidneys don’t work forever

Transplanted kidneys don’t carry on working forever. The average is 12 years for a kidney from a deceased donor, and about 15 years for a kidney from a living close relative. The average for a transplant from a living, unrelated person is somewhere between the two.



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