End stage renal disease typically means you require at least one of two medical treatments: dialysis or a kidney transplant. There is a lot of information out there on dialysis, especially since it is the most common treatment for the end-stage renal disease, but there is not much out there about a kidney transplant. Of course, the best way for you to know if you would be a good candidate for organ transplant is to have an in-depth conversation with your doctor, but understanding the basics of organ transplant is a great place to start.
Here are some common questions and answers about kidney transplants:
What makes someone a good candidate for an organ transplant?
There are a lot of factors that could make someone a poor candidate for an organ transplant. Most factors are health related.
For example, a patient who has some or all the following factors may not be considered for a transplant:
- Obesity or being very overweight
- Substance dependency or abuse
- History of non-compliance with medical recommendations
- Recent history of certain cancers
- Severe disease of the liver, lungs, or other major organs
- Severe or significant cases of cardiovascular disease
- Some cases of psychiatric issue
Where does the donor kidney come from?
Donor kidneys come from people who willingly give up their kidneys. In some cases, it could be a friend, family member, or even a stranger that decides to give up one of their kidneys. This person could be found amongst the people that know and love you, or from a donor list. Other donor kidneys might come from someone who dies and is an organ donor.
What makes a donor compatible?
Donor matching starts with a blood test. If the blood type matches, then tissue typing and cross matching are tested to ensure compatibility. Donors and receivers must be compatible otherwise the body will reject the donor's kidney.
What is recovery like for transplant surgery?
After a kidney transplant surgery, patients typically spend one to two weeks in the hospital depending on their recovery. Once you are released from the hospital, it usually takes a month or two to be able to go back to work and start resuming normal activity.
How can I find out if I am eligible for transplant surgery?
The only way you can truly know if you are eligible for transplant surgery is to talk to your doctor. He or she will go through your medical history and you will have a discussion about whether or not you would be a good candidate for transplant.
How likely am I to get a kidney?
The transplant list is very long, and the donor list is short. Most people spend at least a couple of years on the transplant list while they wait for a kidney. While you are on the list, you will need to keep your body as healthy as possible. You will very likely need dialysis while you wait for a kidney to become available.
What are the alternatives to kidney transplant?
The only other alternative to kidney transplant is dialysis. You need to replace the function of your failed kidneys otherwise, your body cannot function.
An organ transplant is a big deal. If you are considering your eligibility as a potential candidate for a kidney transplant, is important that you understand everything you can about the process. Use this information as a basis to start a conversation with your doctor and ask as many questions as you can to arm yourself with all of the knowledge you can gather.