When an individual’s kidneys fail, treatment is necessary to replace the work their own kidneys can no longer perform. There are two types of treatment for kidney failure: dialysis or transplant. For many individuals whose kidneys have failed, a kidney transplant can offer more freedom and a better quality of life than dialysis. To decide about the best treatment for themselves, they may find it helpful to talk to people who already have a kidney transplant. Speaking to a doctor, nurse, and family members could also provide valuable insights.
What is a kidney transplant?
When an individual undergoes a kidney transplant, a healthy kidney is placed inside their body to carry out the work that their own kidneys can no longer perform. The healthy kidney can come from either a deceased donor – someone who has passed away and chosen to donate, or a living donor – an individual who possesses two healthy kidneys and opts to donate one.
A successful kidney transplant may enable the person to live longer and resume the lifestyle they led before being diagnosed with kidney disease. For many patients, there are fewer restrictions on what they can consume, although adhering to a heart-healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight are recommended to help prolong the life of the new kidney. Their health and energy levels should also see improvement. Research indicates that individuals with kidney transplants generally live longer than those who continue with dialysis.
However, receiving a kidney transplant does not equate to a “cure” for kidney disease. There are associated risks, inclusive of surgical risks. Post-transplant, the patient will need to consume anti-rejection medications for as long as the new kidney is functioning, which could potentially lead to side effects. They will also face a heightened risk for infections and certain types of cancer.
Even though most transplants are successful and endure for many years, the duration varies from one individual to another. Depending on the recipient’s age, many individuals may require more than one kidney transplant in their lifetime.