Counties Manukau Health Renal
Public Service, Nephrology
A kidney transplant can be the first form of treatment you receive or it can be selected later after receiving dialysis treatments for some time. Transplantation is the preferred treatment of end stage renal failure, but not all patients can profit from this option. Factors like severe heart or lung disease, being overweight, malignant diseases etc are contraindications i.e. you are not suitable to have a transplant operation.
You may receive a transplant from a living related donor, a donor who is not related but willing to donate a kidney, or you may receive a kidney from someone who has recently died (cadaveric).
There is a national matching service. It updates the list of those waiting for a kidney, does the blood typing and tissue matching for the possible cadaveric transplant. The waiting list is not a waiting list in the strict sense of the word. Since every kidney from cadaveric donors that becomes available is linked in the computer to the best match, some people are lucky and receive a kidney after just 6 months whereas others have to wait more than 8 years. The mean waiting time overall is roughly around 4.5 years.
If a living donor is willing to give you a healthy kidney, this donor must be evaluated for medical fitness and compatible blood type. Depending on the type of donor, waiting time for a kidney will vary. A cadaver donor wait will be longer than a living donor due to the shortage of cadaveric donors. The surgery will take from 2 to 4 hours and your stay in the hospital will be 5 to 7 days.
Your doctor will prescribe several new medications to prevent rejection by your body of your new kidney. You will have to take these medications as long as the transplanted kidney works. Transplantation can offer you the greatest potential to return to a healthy and productive life.