What is a kidney transplant?
Kidney transplants are performed on patients suffering from renal failure. A successful transplant relieves the patient from the need for dialysis and grants him quality of life almost equivalent to a fully healthy person. Before the technique of kidney transplantation and preservation in the recipient was discovered, renal failure was an incurable disease. Transplantation has restored a ray of hope to these patients.
In the course of the surgery, a kidney is removed from a living or deceased donor and transplanted in the body of the recipient where it functions just like an original kidney. There is usually no need to remove the original kidney from the recipient’s body. People are born with two kidneys situated on the sides of the lower back. The transplanted kidney is placed in the area of the lower belly.
This medical procedure is complicated by the need to prevent the body from rejecting the new kidney which it identifies as a foreign object. It is necessary to take measures to weaken the body’s natural immune system. In some cases the transplant fails and the patient must resume dialysis. There is also the danger that the body’s weakened immune system will be unable to fight off some routine infection which then becomes life-threatening.
What is the life expectancy of a kidney transplant?
The chance of success of kidney transplantations is relatively high and is continually rising due to medical advances and accumulated experience.
In the case of a living donor, nine out of ten kidneys will still be functioning after one year and eight out of ten after five years. In about half the recipients, the kidney will continue to function even after twenty-five years. In the case of a deceased donor, the kidney will generally stop functioning after about ten years.
There is always a gradual process called “chronic rejection” which eventually causes the kidney to fail, but this could take many years.