If it is suitable, a kidney transplant is the best treatment for kidney failure. You should feel better and be able to have a more normal lifestyle.

What is a kidney transplant?

A kidney transplant is an operation to transfer a kidney from one person (donor) to another (recipient).

If it is suitable, a kidney transplant is the best treatment for people who have kidney failure.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should feel better and be able to have a more normal lifestyle.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

The only alternative is to continue with dialysis and treatment with medication.Position of transplant kidney and typical scar

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about two hours but can take longer.

Your surgeon will make a cut on your groin and make a space for the transplanted kidney between the muscle layer and the peritoneal cavity.

Your surgeon will attach the artery and vein connected to the kidney to the main artery and vein that supply your leg. They will join your ureter to the top of your bladder. Your surgeon may insert a stent (tube) in your ureter to protect the join (see figure 1).

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)

2 Specific complications

  • Blocking of the blood vessels
  • Blocking or leaking of your ureter
  • Delayed working of the kidney
  • Acute rejection of the kidney
  • Infections
  • Collection of fluid
  • Temporary damage to nerves
  • Transferring cancer or infection

3 Long-term complications

  • Failure of the kidney
  • Blocking of your ureter
  • Narrowing of the artery that supplies the kidney
  • Death

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 5 to 10 days.

It usually takes about two to three months to return to normal activities. During this time you will be at a higher risk of infection.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

For a small number of people the original kidney disease may happen again.


Author: Mr Keith Rigg FRCS MD
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © 2012 Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved.

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Last updated: July 2017

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