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Renal Transplant

What is a renal transplant?

A renal transplant is when a healthy kidney is surgically placed in the body to do the work that the failed kidney is no longer able to complete.

Where can I get a renal transplant?

Due to the complexity of a renal transplants and the limited availability of cadaveric kidneys, only limited hospitals are able to do renal transplant. In Alabama the only center is located at UAB. Several other centers are available to people in this region in other surrounding states.

Do I have to be referred to a transplant center?

It is best to have your nephrologist refer you to the transplant center. In this way all the needed information can be sent to the center and follow up care can be coordinated with the nephrologist and transplant center.

When should I be referred to a transplant center?

All centers have set criteria for new patient referrals. It is often time to refer a person for transplant when their kidney function is less than 20% and expected to continue to decrease. Timing of referral to a transplant center should be discussed with your nephrologist.

How long does it take from the time I am referred for a transplant until I get a kidney?

The wait time for transplants vary depending on multiple factors. Blood type and the age of the person requiring a transplant play an important role in the wait time for a cadaveric transplant. Due to the greater demand than supply of cadaveric kidneys the wait time for a transplant is between 5-10 years.

Do I have to have a cadaveric kidney transplant?

A person may donate a kidney while alive. Often a living donor kidney works faster and last longer than a deceased donor kidney. A person does not have to be a blood relative to donate a kidney.

If someone wants to donate a kidney to me, what do they have to do?

A person that wishes to donate a kidney must contact the transplant center themselves. After having a blood test to determine that their kidney is a compatible match, the donor must undergo test to verify that their health is stable enough for surgery. If all test are acceptable, a donor and the recipient will have a transplant surgery scheduled at their selected center.

What is the advantages to having a transplant?

The advantages to a renal transplant include having improved quality of life. Most people are able to return to the activities and diet that they enjoyed prior to developing renal failure. Often people are able to return to the workforce after a successful transplant. A person has an increased estimated life span with a renal transplant versus continued dialysis.

What is the disadvantages to a renal transplant?

The surgery is complex and a person must undergo extensive testing prior to having a renal transplant. After the transplant, a person must take expensive medications that can have many side and adverse effects. Often transplant centers require frequent patient visits for follow up care.