The kidney was the first organ to be transplanted successfully in man. Doctors and surgeons who specialize in kidney transplants have accumulated considerable experience. The operation has a high success rate.
A successful kidney transplant frees patients from the need for dialysis, and is a more effective treatment for kidney failure than either peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis. Transplant patients have less restrictions and a better quality of life than do dialysis patients. Most people feel better and have more energy than they did on dialysis.
The process of finding a suitable transplant kidney is complex. Various tests are required to determine if the transplanted kidney is well matched to the recipient in terms of blood group and tissue type.
Even patients who are well matched to their donors may not be suitable recipients. The donor and the patient need to be free of infections and other medical problems that could complicate the patient's recovery. Transplant patients must take immunosuppressant drugs to prevent the transplanted kidney from being rejected. These have side effects and increase the risk of acquiring some infections, viruses, and certain types of cancer. Transplant patients need to take their medication for life, or for as long as the transplant continues to function.
If a transplant fails, patients can go back on dialysis and wait for another transplant.
Transplant patients, being immunosuppressed and at greater risk than other people of picking up infections, should be given information about food hygiene. In addition, they will be advised to follow normal 'Healthy Eating Guidelines'. This is particularly important because of two problems associated with a transplant. Both these problems - excessive weight gain (usually a side effect of taking steroid drugs, such as prednisolone) and high cholesterol levels - increase the risk of heart disease. Healthy eating habits may help reduce the risk.
May 1, 2006