Kidney transplantation is a great option if you want the best possible quality of life as a patient. It is important to point out that transplantation is not a cure for chronic kidney disease, it is only a treatment. You will continue to need lifelong medication. But for many patients, kidney transplantation will provide more independence and allows them to live a more normal life.
Not only a benefit - also a risk
If you are considering transplantation, your medical team and other specialists will help you understand what kidney transplantation is all about. Although you might benefit from a transplant, there is no guarantee that you will have a better quality of life. There are also risks connected with kidney transplantations. If you are a candidate for receiving a kidney transplant, you will therefore undergo extensive testing to ensure that you are suitable for transplantation. The characteristics of your immune system have to be identified closely. Also, you must be in a good physical condition. When you are on the waiting list for a transplant, you must follow a strict agenda when it comes to diet, medication and general lifestyle.
Shortage of organs
Kidneys for transplant can come from living donors that are related to you or from non-related persons such as spouses, or close friends. In some countries they may also come from unknown donors that are still alive and want to make an unselfish donation. Many come from people who have died. In general terms, there is a shortage of organs for transplantation. You may have to wait for months or even years before getting a transplant. The waiting can be quite frustrating. Your medical team will give you all necessary information about regulations and waiting lists.
Are you a candidate?
Not everyone is suitable and fit for a kidney transplant. You might have another disease that makes transplantation too complicated and risky. When a kidney becomes available it must match your characteristics. The more similar the donor is in these characteristics, the greater the chance of long-term success of the transplant. In general terms, a transplant from a living donor related to you gives the best results.
A major operation
Transplant surgery is a major operation. It means that you have to stay in hospital for 4-7 days. After the operation you have to take medicines for the rest of your life to prevent the kidney from being rejected. This medication has to be monitored closely by your medical team. You are also at a higher risk of having infections than healthy people. During the first year after transplantation you will have to make regular visits to your medical team for monitoring and tests.
Learn from experience
Kidney transplantation will bring positive as well as negative changes to your life. You may find it beneficial to discuss your concerns with someone who has undergone transplantation. The medical team will be able to put you in contact with someone to talk to.