Kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that involves the replacement of the diseased or dysfunctional kidney with a healthy kidney.
Kidney failure is a condition in which the kidneys are not able to remove toxins and waste from the blood. In such a condition, kidney transplant is advised by the doctor.
Kidney transplant is required mainly in the case of kidney failure. Symptoms of kidney failure are:
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abnormal sweating
- Excessive thirst
The other indications that suggest that a patient might need a kidney transplant include:
- Severe metabolic imbalance leading to diseases like Gout, Diabetes mellitus
- Kidney infections
- Presence of tumors, such as renal cell carcinoma and Wilm’s tumor
- Kidneys have become unresponsive to medical or surgical treatments
- Trauma resulting in permanent damage to the kidney
The doctor commonly advises to
- Avoid consumption of tobacco, alcohol or any other harmful substance
- Follow a balanced diet and regular exercise regime to keep the weight in check
- Maintain oral health through sound dental care
Kidney transplant procedure is performed by an experienced Renal Transplantation specialist. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and lasts about 3 to 4 hours.
The doctor will
- Make an incision in the lower abdomen to gain access to the kidneys.
- If existing kidneys are causing complications, they are removed else they are left in place.
- New kidney will be placed and blood vessels will be to it.
- Ureter of the new kidney will be connected to the urinary bladder.
- The incision is sutured.
The doctor generally recommends the following post procedure
- Limit the intake of salts, proteins and sugar
- Avoid lifting heavy objects for a few weeks until your incisions are healed completely.
- Bath in a bathtub, jacuzzi or swimming in a pool is forbidden for 15 days after the operation as it can cause infection.
Recovery time depends on the patient’s health and the method of surgery used. Open surgery causing a large incision generally takes about 8 weeks to recover. In case of a laparoscopic surgery involving small incisions, the recovery period is about 4 weeks.
Life after surgery
The patient can lead a normal and healthy life even after surgery. However, patients need to take care of their transplanted kidney and the following points need to be kept in mind:
- No smoking - Smoking doubles the risk of a kidney failure.
- Stop alcohol and drug abuse - Alcohol being high in calories causes weight gain. Drugs, on the other hand lead to a drastic increase in the blood pressure. Both cause serious damage to the kidney.
- Although the dietary restrictions are not much, a few changes in the diet are advised. In order to control your weight and blood sugar level, avoid foods high in sugar and fat content.
- Intake of salt should be limited, as high levels of sodium can increase your blood pressure.
- Taking 5-6 small meal servings unlike the conventional heavy 3 meals is also advised.
- Low-fat dairy products should be consumed to maintain the desired calcium and phosphorus levels.
- The diet should be rich in fiber content.
- The intake of water should be kept more than 7-8 glasses in a day to keep the body hydrated.
- Regular kidney function tests should be performed to make sure that the transplanted kidney is functioning properly in the body.
Complications of kidney transplant:
- Rejection - in this case the immunity system of the body identifies the new transplanted kidney as a foreign object or an invader and hence rejects it. This can cause serious damage to the kidney. Immuno-suppressive medications prevent the risk and rate of rejection.
- Infection - Post operation, bacterial infections involving the urinary tract are very common. The immuno-suppressive medications prevent rejection, but leave you at an increased risk for infections. To prevent infection, antibiotics should be taken for the first 3-6 months after your transplant.
- Urine Leak - If the bladder becomes full before the incision in the bladder gets healed, the ureter can pull away from the bladder causing the urine to leak out.
- High blood pressure - The immuno-suppressive medications might lead to an increase in the blood pressure which in turn may damage your heart and other organs. Additional medicines might have to be taken to control the blood pressure.
- Diabetes - Some immuno-suppressive medications can also increase the blood sugar level in the body. Proper diet and adequate exercise can help in maintaining optimum blood sugar level.
- Kidney stones - Sometimes kidney stones get transplanted along with the donor kidney. This calls for kidney stone treatment.