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Kidney anatomy
Kidney anatomy
Kidney - blood and urine flow
Kidney - blood and urine flow
Kidneys
Kidneys
Kidney transplant - series
Kidney transplant - series

Kidney transplant

Definition

A kidney transplant is surgery to place a healthy kidney into a person with kidney failure.

Alternative Names

Renal transplant; Transplant - kidney

Description

Kidney transplants are one of the most common transplant operations in the United States.

One donated kidney is needed to replace the work previously done by your kidneys.

The donated kidney may be from:

  • Living related donor -- related to the person receiving the transplant, such as a parent, sibling, or child
  • Living unrelated donor -- such as a friend or spouse
  • Deceased donor -- a person who has recently died and who has no known chronic kidney disease

The healthy kidney is transported in cool salt water (saline) that preserves the organ for up to 48 hours. This gives the health care providers time to perform tests to ensure that the donor's and recipient's blood and tissue match.

PROCEDURE FOR A LIVING KIDNEY DONOR

If you are donating a kidney, you will be placed under general anesthesia before surgery. This means you will be asleep and pain-free. Surgeons today can often use small surgical cuts with laproscopic techniques to remove the kidney.

PROCEDURE FOR THE PERSON RECEIVING THE KIDNEY (RECIPIENT)

People receiving a kidney transplant are given general anesthesia before surgery.

  • The surgeon makes a cut in the lower belly area.
  • Your surgeon places the new kidney inside your lower belly. The artery and vein of the new kidney are connected to the artery and vein in your pelvis. Your blood flows through the new kidney, which makes urine just like your own kidneys did when they were healthy. The tube that carries urine (ureter) is then attached to your bladder.
  • Your own kidneys are left in place unless they are causing a medical problem. , unless they are causing high blood pressure, infections, or are too large for your body. The wound is then closed.

Kidney transplant surgery takes about 3 hours. People with diabetes may also have a pancreas transplant done at the same time. This can add another 3 hours to the surgery.

Risks

Specific risks related to this procedure include:

  • Blood clots (deep venous thrombosis)
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Wound infections
  • Side effects from medicines used to prevent transplant rejection

Review Date: 5/7/2013
Reviewed By: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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