Kidneys play an important role in the human body

As the ‘garbage men’ of the bloodstream. More than one million tiny filters (nephrons) inside the kidney filters excess chemical waste in the blood. The waste is mixed with fluid from the kidney to help the body function as a fine-tuned machine. However, when difficulties arise with the kidneys, it may take a kidney transplant surgery to get a person up and running once more.

Below are some helpful facts about the kidneys and what a recipient and donor need to consider when looking into transplant surgery.

General Kidney Facts

You need at least one kidney to live.

Kidneys usually come in pairs.

The shape of a kidney resembles that of a kidney bean.

Kidneys are about the size of a computer mouse (5 inches long by 3 inches wide).

The kidneys balance fluids and minerals in the body, a process called homeostasis.

Combined with the bladder, urethra, and ureters (tubes to the bladder), the kidneys make up the urinary system.

When a Kidney Becomes Unhealthy

If a kidney becomes diseased, it can lose functionality. There are medicinal treatments for kidney failure. However, if a kidney is beyond repair, a patient will need transplant surgery.

Patients have two options when it comes to kidney transplants: deceased (cadaver) donors or living donors. Deceased donor kidneys are effective, but the waiting list is long. The risk of complication or rejection is high.

Living donor options are favorable. A donor is a living person whose organs and blood type are considered compatible with the recipient. Donor candidates are required to be in good health, willing to undergo a physical and emotional evaluation, and be able to give consent to the surgery.

Because humans naturally have two kidneys, only one is taken during surgery. The remaining kidney enlarges and takes on the work of two kidneys. Although this is major surgery, kidney donors do not suffer from giving up one of their kidneys. In fact, they enjoy the same function with one kidney than they would with two. Medication or a particular diet is unnecessary for the donor once they have undergone the surgery.

This procedure is considered the best option for patients needing a kidney transplant. The long-term results are stronger, and the waiting period is much shorter. Surgery can be scheduled and there are lower risks of complication or rejection.

Living donors may not donate a kidney if they fall into one of these categories:

  • Bilateral or recurrent nephrolithiasis (a.k.a. kidney stones)
  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic lung disease with impairment of oxygenation or ventilation
  • History of melanoma
  • History of metastatic cancer
  • History of recurrent thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • HIV infection
  • Morbid obesity
  • Proteinuria
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Stage 3 (or less) Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Under the age of 18 years old (unless they are an emancipated minor
  • Hypertension that is unmanageable

The Transplant Surgery Procedure

Typically, a laparoscopic surgical technique is performed for kidney removal, because it allows for shorter recovery (2 to 3 weeks) and a lower complication rate. This 2 to 3-hour surgery entails minute incisions and a thin camera scope to view the internal area of the body. General anesthesia is administered.

On occasion, kidney removal needs to be performed in the flank area of the body. A 5 to 7-inch incision is made on the side of the body. The muscles are divided, and the tip of the twelfth rib is removed. This surgical procedure takes about 3 hours and full recovery can be expected to last 6 to 8 weeks.

For more information, contact a local transplant center or hospital. They will be able to assist you in finding a donor or in making a kidney donation.

Kidney Transplant Surgery with a Living Donor

General Medical – Kidney Transplant – Specialty Surgeon – Prices
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