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Kidney Transplant
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Kidney Transplant?

Kidney transplant is a surgery to replace a diseased or damaged kidney with a donor kidney. The donor may be a relative or friend. The donor can also be someone who has died and donated the organs.

Anatomy of the Kidney
Anatomy of the Kidney
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

A kidney transplant is done to replace a kidney that is no longer working and cannot be fixed. It may also be done if the kidney has been removed (eg, as cancer treatment). Kidney transplant is only needed if both kidneys are not working. The kidneys fail most often for the following reasons:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Interstitial nephritis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Damage from severe pyelonephritis (inflammation in the kidney, often due to bacterial infection)

More than 90% of transplanted kidneys from deceased donors remain working after one year. The success rate often improves with a kidney from a living donor.

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a kidney transplant, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Rejection of the new kidney
  • Urine leakage into the body
  • Blood clot
  • Damage to blood vessels or nerves
  • Damage to nearby organs
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Cancer risk due to prolonged use of immunosuppressive drugs

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions, especially certain heart, lung, and liver diseases
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Current infection
  • Extreme age (young or old) of either you or the donor
  • Poorly matching tissue between you and the donor
  • Prior failed transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Conditions that will...