The main function of kidneys is to filter the waste products from the body and convert them to urine. Kidney transplant is necessary when there is a case of kidney failure. The failed or diseased kidney is then replaced with a healthy one. However, a suitable donor needs to be found for the transplant. When a suitable donor is available, the transplant center will notify you and an appointment is fixed.
There will be some general instructions to be followed before you go to the hospital. One very basic requirement is to not eat or drink anything for the number of hours specified. Make sure that you take all your prescribed medicines. Also, make sure that you take all your previous test results and hospital papers. At the transplant center, you will undergo some basic tests. Even if they were previously performed, make sure that you undergo these tests as they will confirm whether new conditions have not developed since the last tests.
Once the kidney is found to be a match for you, the surgery must be performed as soon as possible. Kidney transplant is performed under general anesthetic.
The operation has three main stages. Firstly, a small incision is made in the lower abdomen. The donated kidney is then put into place through this incision. The original kidneys are left where they were. These kidneys are generally harmless. Unless they are causing any kind of pain or spreading any kind of infection, they are left where they are. Secondly, the blood vessels are attached to the blood vessels of the new kidney. This ensures that the new kidney gets the blood supply it requires to function properly. In the last stage, the ureter is attached to new kidney. This is the long tube that carries urine to the bladder.
Initially a small tube made of plastic may be inserted into the ureter to ensure the flow of urine. It is later on removed. This is generally after six to twelve weeks.
Once it is confirmed that the new kidney is properly placed and functioning, the incision is closed. The surgery is a complex process and generally takes over three hours.
After the effects of the anesthetic have recovered it is most likely that you will feel some amount of pain. Doctors will provide you with painkillers initially. After the surgery, there will be a new set of medication that helps you immune system to get used to the new kidney and not reject it as an external body.
Most transplanted kidneys begin operating immediately. Your hospital stay will be for about one week. But there are many tests and regular checkups after the surgery that you should not miss.
Initially there will be around two appointments in a week and later on the frequency will reduce as per the results of the tests. If there are no serious symptoms observed, the transplant is considered successful and you can return to normal work within a few months!