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The Kidneys are organs that carry out functions essential to living. Most people are born with two functional kidneys located behind the abdominal organs near the level of the bottom of the ribcage. Normal kidney functions include filtration of the blood, production of urine, regulation of blood pressure, and a key role in the production of red blood cells.

Causes Of End-Stage Kidney Disease

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Anatomical abnormalities
  • Glomerulonephritis

There are three options that patients with end-stage renal disease have for management of the disease.

  1. Hemodialysis
  2. Peritoneal dialysis
  3. Kidney transplant

Only a kidney transplant can be considered to be a "cure" for end-stage renal disease, however, that too would be technically inaccurate.

Kidney Transplantation

A kidney transplant can come from two sources.

  • Living Donor – Family member, close friend etc
  • Deceased Donor – People who suffer brain death are the most likely donors

Before a kidney transplant can be scheduled, a thorough evaluation and "matching" of the recipient and donor has to be done. This will include blood type matching, tissue type matching (antigens present in the body) and crossmatching (antibody matching).

Crossmatching is done several times before a transplant to ensure that there are no antibodies acting against the donor organ. In some cases, medication may be given to reduce the amount of antibodies being produced and facilitate the transplant.

Transplant Surgery

The surgery is carried out under general anesthesia and usually takes around 2-3 hours. The advantage of having a living donor is that the surgery can be scheduled according to the convenience of both the parties involved and does not have to be undertaken in an emergency situation.

Interestingly, not many people know that the original malfunctioning kidney is rarely removed from the body and the new one of placed in the front part of the lower abdomen.

Post Transplant Surgery

If the transplant is successful then the patient will no longer need to undergo any dialysis and can live "normally" again. It is likely anti-rejection medication will be given to suppress the immune system after the procedure.

These medicines also make the body more vulnerable to other infections and so antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral medication may also be prescribed to the transplant recipient.

Kidney Transplant Success Rate

The success rate of a kidney transplantation procedure is quite high, taking into account the complexity of the procedure. According to the statistics at the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, an estimated 97% of recipients have successful transplants at the end of the first month, 93% at the end of the first year and 83% at the end of three years.

An estimated 54% of the transplants are still working at the end of 10 years.

These results are slightly different for live donor transplants and deceased donor transplants, with the live donor percentages of success better across all timelines.

Patients have the option of going back to dialysis even after a kidney transplant has failed and can even try and go for another transplant if the doctors think it feasible.

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