Kidney Transplants

A kidney transplant is an operation that places a healthy kidney in your body. The transplanted kidney takes over the work of the two kidneys that failed, so you no longer need dialysis.

During a transplant, the surgeon places the new kidney in your lower abdomen and connects the artery and vein of the new kidney to your artery and vein. Often, the new kidney will start making urine as soon as your blood starts flowing through it. Most transplanted kidneys come from donors who have passed away. However, some come from a living family member. If you have a transplant, you must take drugs for the rest of your life, to keep your body from rejecting the new kidney.

The transplant surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. The operation usually takes 2-4 hours. This type of operation is a heterotopic transplant, meaning the kidney is placed in a different location than the existing kidneys. (liver and heart transplants are orthotropic transplants, in which the diseased organ is removed and the transplanted organ is placed in the same location.) The kidney transplant is placed in the front (anterior) part of the lower abdomen, in the pelvis.

The original kidneys are not usually removed unless they are causing severe problems such as uncontrollable high blood pressure, frequent kidney infections, or are greatly enlarged. The artery that carries blood to the kidney and the vein that carries blood away is surgically connected to the artery and vein already existing in the pelvis of the recipient. The ureter, or tube, that carries urine from the kidney is connected to the bladder. Recovery in the hospital usually takes 3-7 days.