If you are considering a kidney
transplant, you have most likely already been receiving dialysis
for some time, and are familiar with the restrictions it places on your
lifestyle. While transplantation does offer a less restrictive
alternative to dialysis, it is important that you understand the risks
as well as the advantages of a kidney transplant.
Because kidney transplantation is major surgery, it entails the
associated risks of infection, bleeding and death.
Patients who have undergone a kidney transplant must take
medications (called immunosuppressants) every day as long as the
kidney is functioning to prevent rejection.
Immunosuppressant medications can be costly, and they can cause
side effects, including an increased risk of infections and
You will no longer be dependent on dialysis.
The anemia (tiredness) you feel while on dialysis is usually
reversed after a kidney transplant. In fact, most people find
that they can return to work or school, and enjoy other
activities not possible while on dialysis.
After a successful transplant, fluid and diet restrictions are
After a transplant, many patients experience an increase in
sexual desire, and fertility may occur. Many men are able to
father children, and full-term pregnancies are possible for some
Over the long term, a kidney transplant is less expensive to
society than dialysis.
Eligibility for a Kidney Transplant
Any patient whose own kidneys have failed or are close to failing is a
potential candidate for a kidney transplant. Several factors play a role
in determining whether transplantation or dialysis is best for you.
These factors include your general health, and any health problems that
could increase the risks associated with transplant surgery. The
problems with the most likelihood of increasing the risk of surgery are
heart disease, cancer and infection.
The Evaluation Process
The Lankenau Kidney Transplant Team will assess your eligibility for
surgery in a number of ways. These include:
Blood Typing: Every individual has a specific blood type,
designated as A, B, AB or O. In order for a transplant to be
successful, the donor of the kidney must have a blood type that
is compatible with your own blood type. In most cases, this
means the donor must have a blood type that matches your own.
However, donors who have an O blood type can donate blood and
organs to all other blood types and recipients who have an AB
blood type can receive an organ from a donor with any blood
type. Recipients who have an AB blood type can receive an organ
from a donor with any blood type. The Rh factor is not important
in matching organ. This means, for example, that an A+
individual can donate to an A- individual.
Tissue Typing: Tissue typing is a blood test through which
antigens, also called markers, are identified on your cells.
When searching for a donor kidney, the objective is to match the
donor antigens to your own. The more matches, the better the
chance that your body will keep the kidney for a longer period
Tests and Examinations
It is important that your overall health be evaluated prior to a kidney
transplant. Your transplant team doctors will conduct a physical
evaluation, and will request that you undergo a number of different
tests and examinations.
Blood Samples will be required for viral and routine studies.
A Chest X-Ray will be taken so your doctors can look at your
lungs and lower respiratory track.
An EKG will be performed to see how the heart is working.
A Dental Exam is recommended prior to surgery to check for the
presence of infections in your teeth or mouth.
For women, a Gynecologic Exam and Pap Smear should be performed.
Depending on your physical condition, age and health history,
your doctors may also recommend other tests or examinations.
Transplant Team Consultation
To help answer all of your questions about transplantation, and to
prepare you for what’s ahead, a meeting will be arranged with your
transplant team, including a physician, transplant nurse coordinator,
social worker, dietitian and financial coordinator.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.