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Kidney Transplant

Underlying Problem Requiring a Kidney Transplant:
A kidney transplant can also be referred to as a renal transplant. It involves replacing a damaged kidney with a healthy one obtained from a donor. The most common underlying cause for a kidney transplant is end-stage renal disease. This can result from diabetes, infections, hypertension, and a number of genetic factors, with diabetes being the leading cause. Those suffering from renal disease usually must utilize some form of dialysis, although those with a living donor may have the opportunity to undergo a kidney transplant before dialysis becomes a medical necessity.

Treatment: The first step in a kidney transplant is to locate a viable donor kidney. This may come from a living donor or from a deceased individual who was designated as an organ donor. The donor kidney generally needs to be compatible with the recipient, according to blood type, antigens, and other factors. Medicine is continually advancing, however, and now it may not even be necessary for the donor and the recipient to have compatible blood types.

Both the donor and the recipient will undergo general anesthetic for a kidney transplant. The donor kidney will be removed with the renal artery intact. The donor will then continue life with the one remaining kidney. The recipient will generally not have his or her original kidney removed. Instead, the donor kidney will be implanted in a different location. In many cases, the renal artery will be attached to the iliac artery instead of the abdominal aorta, and the renal vein will be attached to the external iliac vein instead of the inferior vena cava.

Once the blood vessels are connected, doctors will allow blood flow to begin to the kidney. The ureter will then be attached from the new kidney to the bladder so that urine may be transported from the kidney to be eliminated from the body.

Recovery a Kidney Transplant:
The recipient of a kidney transplant can generally expect to remain in the hospital for four to seven days post surgery. During this time, the kidney will begin to work (usually three to five days with a living donor and one to two weeks for cadaveric kidneys). In order to keep the body from rejecting the kidney transplant, special medications are prescribed, and the patient will need to take these for the remainder of his or her life. If a rejection does happen, it does not always mean that the kidney must be removed, rather it may require a different type of drug regimen.

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