Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplants are one of the most common transplant operations in the United States. Kidney transplantation involves replacement of the failed kidneys in a recipient (person receiving the kidney) with one working kidney from a donor (person donating the kidney.)

There are two types of donors:

  • A living donor may be a family member, friend, coworker, or any person who is willing to give a kidney to someone in need. A person only needs one healthy kidney to live.
  • A cadaver donor is someone who has recently died.

A living donor will be placed under general anesthesia before a transplant. This means the donor will be asleep and pain-free. Surgeons today usually use small surgical cuts with laparoscopic techniques to help them reduce the number of days it takes a donor to recover.

For the recipient, kidney transplant surgery takes about three hours. The surgeon places the new kidney inside the recipient’s lower belly. The artery and vein of the new kidney are connected to the artery and vein in the recipient’s pelvis. Blood flows through the new kidney, which makes urine just like a healthy kidney. The tube that carries urine (ureter) is then attached to the recipient’s bladder.

To prevent the recipient’s body from rejecting the donated kidney, special medications are required to suppress the immune system. These medications will likely need to be taken for the rest of the recipient’s life.

Transplantation is not right for every patient, and having transplantation as an option depends on each patient’s specific situation. A nephrologist who believes that transplantation is a good option for a particular patient will refer that patient to a transplant hospital for a thorough medical evaluation.

kidney transplant miamiOnce a successful kidney transplant is completed, it usually takes between 3 to 6 months for the recipient to return to work and other normal activities. During this time, the patient needs to see a nephrologist for frequent check-ups. Initially, these check-ups may be required 2 to 3 times a week. The frequency of the visits changes to approximately once every 3 months, once the nephrologist is satisfied that the new kidney is working well.

A successful kidney transplant frees patients from the need for dialysis, and it is a more effective treatment for kidney failure than either peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis. Transplant patients have fewer restrictions and maintain a better quality of life than dialysis patients. Most patients feel better and have more energy than they did while on dialysis.

Miami Kidney Group works in close association with multiple transplant centers in the state of Florida to help achieve excellent outcomes both before and after transplantation, including:

Jackson Memorial Hospital (Miami)

Shands Hospital at the University of Florida (Gainesville)

Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville)

Tampa General Hospital (Tampa)

Cleveland Clinic Florida

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