A kidney transplant offers many patients an alternative to dialysis and allows them to live healthy and happy lives. If you may need dialysis or would like to explore transplant options, talk with your nephrologist. Your physician will discuss the transplant process and the requirements with you and may refer you for a comprehensive evaluation to determine if you are a good candidate for transplant. You may want to complete the transplant evaluation prior to starting dialysis and as soon as you know you are in the later stages of chronic kidney disease.
FINDING A MATCH
Once you have been accepted for transplantation, your transplant team will meet with you to discuss your transplant options. There are two types of organ donors: a living donor and a non-living (deceased) donor. If you don’t have a potential living donor, the first step in receiving a transplant is to get placed on the national transplant waiting list of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Because of the shortage of donor organs, most transplant candidates must wait for some length of time for a compatible donor.
PREPARING FOR SURGERY
Before the surgery, make sure to work to stay healthy, as it will make you more prepared for the procedure. Take your medications as prescribed, follow your diet and exercise guidelines, keep all appointments with your health care team, and stay involved in healthy activities, including relaxing and spending time with family and friends. The transplant surgery will be performed with general anesthesia, and generally lasts three to four hours. Expect to stay in the hospital for at least a few days post-op so that doctors and nurses can monitor your condition.