A patient’s guide to kidney transplant
It is known that blood and other organs carry waste in the form of toxins and non-required water. This has to be removed from the body. But how is this done? Well, this is done by the process of filtration, performed by the blood capillaries in the kidneys. These bean shaped organs serve crucial homeostatic functions of the body. The wastes dissolved in water are removed as urine by the kidneys. But sometimes, owing to lifestyle related medical conditions, injuries, tumors and unknown physical ailments a person’s kidneys may stop working. As a result of kidney failure, waste products start accumulating in the blood. Such individuals require urgent medical attention, dialysis or kidney transplant as a part of their treatment.
Kidney transplant is a process where the kidney is surgically transferred from a healthy donor to the receiver patient. Usually one donated kidney is enough to substitute two failed kidneys. If a biocompatible kidney is not available, the patient’s name can be sent to the waiting list.
Kidney transplant is usually avoided by controlling diet, medication and treatment. Kidney transplants gain utmost necessity in cases of end-stage kidney failure where the former treatment steps fail. The common cause includes diabetes, chronic high blood pressure, chronic glomerulonephritis (an inflammation and eventual wound on the tiny filters within your kidneys called glomerulus).
How to get on the kidney transplant list
If you know someone who needs a transplant, you must follow these rules to be on kidney transplant list-
- Get written consent from your doctor.
- Contact a transplant hospital.
- Choose one or more transplant hospitals. A patient can register with multiple transplant centers. However expect that you will have to be evaluated by medical team of each centre even if you are registered with another. Shortlist the hospitals, taking into account your medical insurance, geographic location, economic agenda.
- Try clearing all your queries during your evaluation to determine if you and the hospital and the transplant team are in sync.
If the patient is on kidney transplant lists, the transplant hospitals will let you know the status within a fortnight. However, do not believe that process is on first cum-first serve basis as transplant donors list is actually based on risk factors, age, sex, race, blood group and waiting period.
Requirements of a Kidney transplant donor
- The kidney transplant donor must be physically healthy, with optimum cardiac and pulmonary output. There should be absolutely zero hepatic problems associated.
- Patients having HIV-AIDS, cardiovascular disease, terminal infectious diseases and forms of cancer are usually barred from donating.
- The donor undergoes a screening process that evaluates:
- Blood type (A, B, AB, or O): The receiver must be compatible with the donor.
- HLA type (human leukocyte antigen): Higher the numbers of matching antigens longer will the new kidney survive.
- Blood and urine tests: These tests ascertain the cretonne levels and electrolyte levels.
- A donor must not be a minor and have no record of substance abuse or alcohol problems.
- A donor’s urinary tract and associated blood vessels in excretory region should be normal.
- The donor must be willing and not suffering from mental trauma regarding the same.
Kidney transplant rejection
Kidney transplant rejection occurs when patient’s immune system considers the new kidney a foreign harmful body and attacks it. The rejection can be of three types:
- Hyper acute rejection: Happens a few minutes after the transplant. It occurs if the antigens are completely unmatched like blood group mismatch and such a mismatch can cause death.
- Acute rejection: Occurs between the first few weeks to three months. However, such a rejection can be controlled with immunosuppressant drugs.
- Chronic rejection: Takes place over the years. This happens when he transplanted tissues or organ undergoes slow corrosion. This can be taken care by following up with your doctor.
Step-by step kidney transplant procedure
- Kidney transplant procedure starts with a call from transplant team upon which the receiver must quickly report to the hospital. Eating and drinking must completely be stopped after getting the call.
- Tests like physical exam, blood work, a chest x-ray, EKG are performed on the patient.
- Before the kidney transplant surgery, body hair is shaved, and enema is used to clean the intestines. Once done, the intravenous line is administered.
- Patient is subjected to general anesthesia while an incision on the lower abdomen through which kidney transplant surgery is carried out.
- Post surgery patients are closely monitored and kept under proper medication until they are fit for returning home.