Kidney Transplant Journey

A kidney transplantation truly is a journey, with distinct steps before, during and after the surgical procedure. Though each patient case is unique, the three key steps in the transplant process typically include patient evaluation, preparation for transplant surgery and post-surgical care.

A patient’s physician determines when a patient is a candidate for a donor kidney. Once a patient is placed on the kidney transplant list, the search begins for a new kidney. There are three categories of potential organ donors: living-related, living-unrelated, and deceased donors.

  • A living-related donor is a blood relative of the recipient, such as a mother, father, brother, sister, child, cousin, aunt or uncle.

  • A living-unrelated donor may be a spouse, in-law or friend.

  • A deceased donor is someone who has been declared dead and whose relatives have agreed to donate their loved one’s kidney to save a (life).

If a living-donor organ is not available, the patient is placed on a national waiting list for a deceased donor kidney.

Medical Evaluation

After you have decided to go ahead with kidney transplantation, the next step is to have a complete medical examination and a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether or not you are a good candidate, including:

  • Comprehensive history and physical examination by a transplant nephrologist

  • Surgical evaluation by a transplant surgeon

  • Evaluation by a transplant dietitian

  • Evaluation by a transplant social worker to assess family or other support systems that may be necessary to ensure proper care post-operatively

  • Chest X-ray to check the lungs for disease

  • Cardiovascular tests – EKG – to evaluate the condition and strength of your heart

  • Blood tests consisting of blood chemistry, kidney function and immune system test

  • Ultrasound to look at your kidneys and surrounding structures

  • Transplant psychiatric evaluation in order to determine your understanding of the benefits and risks as they were explained to you​

Transplant team

After your surgery, the transplant team will follow you closely. You will be required to take immunosuppressive medication to help prevent rejection of the kidney transplant.

Immunosuppressants cause the body to lower its defenses and accept the new organ, but in doing so make you more vulnerable to some infections. The tradeoff is necessary to maintain function of your new kidney.

The following criteria exclude consideration as a kidney donor:

  • Weight over 35% BMI
  • Uncontrollable Hypertension or History of hypertension
  • HIV
  • Diabetes
  • Active Malignancy, or Incompletely treated malignancy
  • Evidence of acute symptomatic infection (until resolved)
  • Diagnosable psychiatric conditions requiring treatment before donation including any evidence of suicidality

I am interested in becoming a donor. What should I do? contact kidneyforkarcho@gmail.com

In addition, you need to keep an eye on signs and symptoms of acute rejection which can mimic some of the features of infection such as fevers and pain over the area of the transplant. A sudden decrease in urine output should also be reported your transplant coordinator as this is sometimes a sign of kidney dysfunction.

Living with a transplant is a lifelong process. Regular visits and frequent contact with the transplant team are essential. Transplant team provides support every step of the way in your transplant journey, at a time when you need to focus your energy on treatment, recovery and return to health.