What is a kidney transplant?
A kidney transplant is a surgery done to replace a diseased kidney with a healthy kidney from a donor. The kidney may come from a deceased organ donor or from a living donor. Family members or others who are a good match may be able to donate one of their kidneys. This type of transplant is called a living transplant. People who donate a kidney can live healthy lives with one healthy kidney.
A person getting a transplant most often gets just 1 kidney. In rare situations, he or she may get 2 kidneys from a deceased donor. The diseased kidneys are usually left in place. The transplanted kidney is placed in the lower belly on the front side of the body.
Why might I need a kidney transplant?
You may need a kidney transplant if you have end stage renal disease (ESRD). This is a permanent condition of kidney failure. It often needs dialysis. This is a process used to remove wastes and other substances from the blood.
For a Kidney Transplant Evaluation, please fill out our referral form
What do the kidneys do?
- Remove urea and liquid waste from the blood in the form of urine. Urea is made when foods containing protein, such as meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the blood to the kidneys.
- Balance salts, electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium, and other substances in the blood
- Produce erythropoietin, a hormone that aids the formation of red blood cells
- Regulate blood pressure
- Regulate fluid and acid-base balance in the body to keep it neutral. This is needed for normal function of many processes within the body
Some conditions of the kidneys that may result in ESRD include:
- Repeated urinary infections
- Kidney failure caused by diabetes or high blood pressure
- Polycystic kidney disease or other inherited disorders
- Glomerulonephritis, which is inflammation of the kidney’s filtering units
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare disorder that causes kidney failure
- Lupus and other diseases of the immune system
Other conditions, such as congenital defects of the kidneys, may result in the need for a kidney transplant. There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend a kidney transplant.
What are the risks for kidney transplant?
As with any surgery, complications can occur. Some complications may include:
- Blockage of the blood vessels to the new kidney
- Leakage of urine or blockage of urine in the ureter
- Lack of function of the new kidney at first
The new kidney may be rejected. Rejection is a normal reaction of the body to a foreign object or tissue. When a new kidney is transplanted into a recipient’s body, the immune system reacts to what it thinks as a threat and attacks the new organ. For a transplanted organ to survive, medicines must be taken to trick the immune system into accepting the transplant and not attacking it as a foreign object.
What happens during a kidney transplant?
A kidney transplant requires a stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.
Generally, a kidney transplant follows this process:
- You will remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown.
- An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your arm or hand. More catheters may be put in your neck and wrist to monitor the status of your heart and blood pressure, and to take blood samples. Other sites for catheters include under the collarbone area and the groin blood vessels.
- If there is too much hair at the surgical site, it may be shaved off.
- A urinary catheter will be inserted into your bladder.
- You will be positioned on the operating table, lying on your back.
- Kidney transplant surgery will be done while you are asleep under general anesthesia.
- The skin over the surgical site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.
- The transplant surgeon will make a long incision into the lower abdomen on one side and will visually inspect the donor kidney before implanting it.
- The donor kidney will be placed into the belly. A left donor kidney will be implanted on your right side; a right donor kidney will be implanted on your left side. This allows the ureter to be accessed easily for connection to your bladder.
- The renal artery and vein of the donor kidney will be sewn to the external iliac artery and vein.
- After the artery and vein are attached, the blood flow through these vessels will be checked for bleeding at the suture lines.
- The donor ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney) will be connected to your bladder.
- The incision will be closed with stitches or surgical staples.
- A drain may be placed in the incision site to reduce swelling.
- A sterile bandage or dressing will be applied.
About Halifax Health – Center for Transplant Services
Since 2008, Halifax Health – Center for Transplant Services has successfully performed more than 100 kidney transplants for patients with end-stage kidney failure. To elevate our program and continue our mission to provide exceptional care to our patients, Halifax Health entered an affiliation with UF Health Shands Transplant Center in 2017. UF Health was the first transplant center in the state of Florida to complete a kidney transplant. This affiliation gives us the ability to help more patients and save more lives.